Wil Myers' hot hitting and St. Louis' continued cold spell at the plate was the right combination for the San Diego Padres to win their first matchup with the Cardinals this season.
That slumping club will get to face a starter who is making his major league debut, Cesar Vargas, when its series at Petco Park continues Saturday.
Myers went 3 for 3 with his fourth home run and a double while driving in three runs in a 4-1 victory Friday, his first game against St. Louis. The first baseman is batting .444 with a pair of homers and six RBIs in San Diego's 4-2 stretch while hitting mainly in the No. 2 spot.
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"By nature he likes to instigate. By nature he likes to be out front. If you watch him get on deck after the inning ends, he's out ready to hit faster than any human I've ever seen in my entire life," manager Andy Green said. "He just wants to go. He wants to go all the time. Hitting in the first inning I think probably really suits him and l think it's been a welcome change for him."
Only Randal Grichuk's fourth-inning homer off Andrew Cashner kept the Padres (7-10) from shutting out the Cardinals (8-8), who have totaled seven runs while losing three of four. St. Louis had a major league-best 85 runs in its first 12 games - 14 more than next-best team, the Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals hit .281 in their first 11 contests and .347 with runners in scoring position. They've batted. 214 overall in their last five and .118 in scoring situations.
"We've just got to bear down in those situations and got to make something happen," manager Mike Matheny said.
Matheny's team will try to get on track when its faces a pitcher who is coming up after striking out 14 and walking one over 12 2/3 innings in two Double-A starts. The right-hander spent seven seasons in the New York Yankees system, reaching as high as Triple-A last year.
The Padres signed him to a one-year deal Nov. 20, five days after he was granted free agency. They called him up because Robbie Erlin is on the disabled list for a strained left elbow.
"We've really liked what he's done so far since he's been in the organization," Green told MLB's official website. "His couple starts down in Double-A were very, very good. What he did down in (the Padres' exhibition games in Mexico City) was outstanding. His cutter plays uniquely; it's a pitch that obviously the Cardinals haven't seen before."
Vargas will pitch opposite Michael Wacha (1-0, 2.76 ERA), who has performed well since giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings in his season opener in Pittsburgh on April 5.
The right-hander has allowed three runs - one earned - in 12 innings in his past two outings but did not get a decision in a 4-3 victory against Cincinnati on Sunday.
Wacha is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Padres, both last season. He yielded one run in six innings in his lone game in San Diego, a 10-3 victory Aug. 23.
The Padres' 2.50 ERA in eight games against the Cardinals since the beginning of last season is their second-best mark versus any NL opponent behind a 2.49 against Atlanta.