Kyle Lohse and David Freese provided just the kind of performance the struggling St. Louis Cardinals needed to get out of their early-season rut.
Lohse allowed one run in eight sharp innings and Freese went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs to help the Cardinals snap a three-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
"You can't get too worried about the way things are going this early," Lohse said. "Obviously you don't want it to turn into a trend. Most of us have been around long enough to know it's not going to last forever. We just have to weather the storm and get through it and things will right themselves."
Matt Holliday scored the go-ahead run and added an RBI single in his first game since undergoing an appendectomy April 1 to help the Cardinals win for just the third time in nine games this season. Skip Schumaker added a two-run double in a three-run sixth that gave the Cardinals the lead for good.
Barry Zito (0-1) walked five batters, including two who later scored, and the Giants were unable to complete their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals since 2001.
"All day I was battling my timing in the delivery," Zito said. "The ball was getting up. That's the core of my frustration in the outing was not throwing strikes. I've been throwing strikes all spring. It was a timing issue with the delivery. It's just something that gets out of whack when you try to do too much."
After San Francisco overcame ninth-inning deficits to win the first two games of this series, the Cardinals managed to hold onto this lead without using struggling closer Ryan Franklin. Lohse (1-1) allowed five hits and handed a big lead over to Trever Miller, who finished with a scoreless ninth.
"You have to start somewhere," manager Tony La Russa said. "You build a little momentum and a little confidence and you build on it. Hopefully this is where it starts."
St. Louis also got the win despite another rough day for three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols, whose early struggles have played a big part in St. Louis' slow start. Pujols, in the final year of his contract, went 0 for 5 to drop his average to .143 with just one extra-base hit through nine games.
Pujols hit into a double play after the Cardinals put the first two batters on in the third inning and was taunted before his next at-bat by fans chanting "one-five-six" for his season average at that point.
After Pujols grounded out to lead off the sixth, the Cardinals started their go-ahead rally when Zito walked Holliday and Allen Craig. Freese then hit an RBI double to make it 2-1 and Schumaker added a two-run double that hit off center fielder Aaron Rowand's glove after a long run to the gap in left-center.
That gave the Cardinals their first three-run inning of the season and gave Lohse some breathing room on the mound.
"We have the type of offense that can put up big numbers," Freese said. "Hopefully it's a domino effect and we can get things going."
Schumaker's hit ended the day for Zito, who allowed four runs, six hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings to lose his first home start since getting booed off the mound on the final weekend of the regular season last year.
Holliday added an RBI single in the seventh, giving him four hits and three RBIs in just two games this season. Freese led off the eighth with his first homer off Guillermo Mota to make it 6-1.
The loss capped a celebratory weekend in San Francisco, where the Giants raised their World Series championship banner before Friday's home opener, handed out World Series rings Saturday and honored 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey in a pregame ceremony Sunday.
After getting wins following the first two celebrations, the Giants fell short Sunday and now can get ready to play games without all the pomp and circumstance.
"I don't want to say it's a relief. We were looking forward to it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There might have been a little hangover today. It's been a very emotional first couple of games here but their guy pitched well. Give him credit. That's where it starts. He was on top of his game."
NOTES: Posey was one of a handful of regulars who got the day off for the Giants, with CF Andres Torres sitting with a mild left Achilles' strain and SS Miguel Tejada getting a planned day off. ... Cardinals C Gerald Laird was hit in the helmet by Pablo Sandoval's broken bat on an RBI single in the first inning but stayed in the game.