The Los Angeles Dodgers picked a great time for their best offensive showing in over two weeks.
Another strong performance on Saturday in the third contest of a four-game series against St. Louis could allow the Dodgers to pull into a tie with the Cardinals for the NL's second wild card position.
Los Angeles had been held to three runs or fewer in eight straight games -- a span in which it went just 1-7 -- before breaking out offensively in Friday's 8-5 victory. The Dodgers took full advantage of their nine hits and three walks, getting home runs from Luis Cruz and Andre Ethier. The former's three- run shot in the sixth inning was the go-ahead hit.
It was Los Angeles' highest run total since a 10-0 win at the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 27.
"We're going to enjoy this one and move on. (Ethier) and (Cruz's) homers were huge," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "This was a two-game swing. It was a big win."
Cruz finished with four RBI and Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs as the Dodgers snapped a four-game slide and moved to within one game of the Cardinals in the wild card race.
Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday each hit a home run in defeat, St. Louis' first in its last five games with Los Angeles.
The Cardinals have lost seven of their past nine overall and hope that Jamie Garcia can solve his road issues in tonight's start.
The left-hander is 2-5 with a 6.19 earned run average in nine starts as the guest this season and is coming off a loss at the San Diego Padres on Monday. Garcia allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks while lasting just three innings.
"I didn't get the job done. I left the ball up and didn't execute," said Garcia, who is 4-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 16 starts this season.
The 26-year-old has lost five of his last six decisions, going 1-3 in five starts since returning from injury. Garcia is 2-1 with a 6.91 ERA in four lifetime meetings with the Dodgers, including three starts.
Los Angeles turns to Joe Blanton, who was pressed into a start on short notice last Sunday when Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch due to injury.
Blanton was unable to respond and took the loss to the San Francisco Giants, yielding four runs on six hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. That dropped the right-hander to 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA in seven starts since joining the Dodgers in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Blanton, 31, is 3-2 with a 4.28 ERA in his career versus the Cardinals and faced them in St. Louis on May 24 while with the Phillies. He was hammered for seven runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 frames in that one, getting a no-decision.