Garland stretches winning streak to six games

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Jon Garland emerged from a tough duel against opposing starter Adam Wainwright with a sixth straight victory as the San Diego Padres claimed a 1-0 victory over the St Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

The Padres' big right-hander notched seven strikeouts to improve to 6-2 in recording his longest string of wins since 2006.

Jerry Hairston Jr smacked a solo home run in the second inning against Wainwright, who struck out 12 batters over seven innings.

In a matchup of the two top pitchers for their respective teams, Garland got out of an early bases-loaded jam in the first inning before settling down.

"I was all over the place," Garland told reporters, of his opening inning. "I don't think anyone (with the Cardinals) would say so, but mentally it wears on you when the opportunities are there and you don't take advantage of them."

Slugger Albert Pujols had three hits and looked to rally St Louis with a lead-off single in the ninth but closer Heath Bell nailed down his 13th save of the season.

Pujols broke out o a 3-for-20 slump entering the contest but the three-time National League MVP has yet to record an RBI in his last 10 games.

Despite the loss, the Cardinals (26-20) remained in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds at the top of the National League Central division.

San Diego (27-18) was able to open up a two-game lead in the NL West after their third straight victory.

The Padres recorded just four hits on the night but used their formula of defense and pitching to keep momentum.

"We know that usually there are low-scoring ballgames here, and that's what this team is really made of... really good pitching and good defense," said Hairston, who got his first homer of the . "That's why this team is built this way."

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)