Pujols breaks out in Cardinals' win

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Albert Pujols hit his first homer and drove in his first runs in 11 games, and Brendan Ryan tied a career high with four hits to lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the San Diego Padres 8-3 Thursday night.

Rookie P.J. Walters won his first major league game with five shutout innings.

Pujols, who was homerless with no RBIs since May 14 at Cincinnati, ripped a solo home run and nearly had another to help the Cardinals avoid their first three-game sweep against San Diego in nearly 15 years. He finished with three RBIs.

Pujols lined a shot off Wade LeBlanc (2-3) in the fifth inning that hit off the third-story balcony of the brick Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field.

The three-time MVP nearly did the same thing in the third. But his hard smash with two runners on hit just foul down the left-field line. Pujols followed with a grounder that drove in one run.

Pujols, who came into the series in a 3 for 20 slump, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh as St. Louis broke out of its offensive doldrums with 15 hits. The Cardinals had scored just one run in dropping the first two games of the series, including Wednesday night's 2-1 loss in 13 innings.

Ryan, who came in hitting .175, had four hits for the third time in his career, including a solo homer in the fifth, two batters ahead of Pujols. Ryan also scored three runs to tie his career high.

Walters (1-0) gave up four hits, struck out four and walked two in his second big league start, his first this season.

Pujols' 11-game streak without an RBI tied his career high, set during his rookie season of 2001. Pujols' ninth home run was only his second in 29 games since April 26.

Walters pitched out of a pair of two-out, bases-loaded jams against the NL West-leading Padres. He retired LeBlanc on a fly ball in the second and struck out Chase Headley in the fifth.

San Diego, which won the first two games of the series 1-0 and 2-1, had its four-game winning streak snapped.

St. Louis has hit only 14 homers in 25 games in May.

LeBlanc, who had been rock solid in his first six starts this season, was hit hard for the second straight game.

The left-hander gave up four runs on nine hits over 5 2-3 innings. LeBlanc lasted just three innings in his last outing, a 15-8 loss at Seattle on Friday when he allowed a career-high eight runs.

LeBlanc had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first six starts.

The Padres were looking to sweep St. Louis in a three-game series for the first time since August 1995.

NOTES: St. Louis placed RHP Kyle Lohse on the DL with exertional compartment syndrome in his right forearm. It's an exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in legs or arms and can be difficult to identify. Lohse is scheduled to have surgery on Friday. ... Ryan last had four hits on July 27 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... After not allowing a home run in his first six starts, LeBlanc has given up four in his last two. ... The last time San Diego had a series sweep of any kind against the Cardinals was two games in July 1997. ... Walter, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis Saturday, made one relief appearance on Saturday against the Angels before his start.