ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - St. Louis pitcher Jake Westbrook pitched brilliantly through eight innings to lead the Cardinals to a 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

The loss dropped the Padres into second place in the tight National League West division race, half a game behind the San Francisco Giants who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2.

"It was the first zero I had put up in a long time," Westbrook said. "It was a good feeling."

Westbrook scattered six hits, struck out three, and recorded 16 ground ball outs. He walked three and stranded eight runners to earn his second win for St. Louis and eighth of the season.

"He was exactly what we needed," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He made so many good pitches. That was quite a piece of work."

Kyle McClellan pitched a scoreless ninth inning in relief.

The Cardinals scored three runs in the sixth inning, with Albert Pujols hitting an RBI double and Yadier Molina a two-run single, to end Padres' starter Tim Stauffer's game.

Matt Holiday's RBI single in the first inning had given the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.

Former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick, who was sent to the Padres in a three-team trade that brought Westbrook to St. Louis, made his first return to St. Louis and was 1-for-4 at the plate.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)