Will Venable hit a pinch-hit two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning and the San Diego Padres snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the suddenly scuffling St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.
Venable had been 1 for 17 coming off the bench before connecting on the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva (3-3) after the Padres successfully challenged a fair-foul ruling that resulted in a ground-rule double by Clint Barmes. The ball appeared to tick the line as right fielder Jason Heyward made an unsuccessful attempt at a sliding catch near the stands. Venable followed with his sixth homer of the year.
Shawn Kelley (1-2) had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his 20th save in 21 chances. Yangervis Solarte and starter Tyson Ross also homered for the Padres, who were shut out their two previous games.
Heyward and Matt Carpenter had two hits and an RBI apiece for the Cardinals, who have dropped three straight for only the second time this season. St. Louis leads the majors at 51-27 and despite the slump also has the best home record at 29-10.
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The Cardinals had won nine in a row at home before the slide, in which they've totaled five runs. They've been taxed physically and mentally lately with the last four games and five of the last six including lengthy rain delays or extra innings, with Thursday's loss five minutes shy of four hours.
Both Ross and St. Louis rookie starter Tim Cooney allowed three runs in six innings, with two earned against Cooney. Ross hit his first career homer to the opposite field in right in the fifth and Cooney doubled to begin St. Louis' two-run rally in the bottom half to tie it at 3.
Solarte led off the second with his third homer but was ejected for the first time in his career after arguing a strikeout to end the sixth.
Padres: IF Will Middlebrooks has been limited to two pinch-hit appearances since injuring his ankle stepping on a bat on Sunday but could start in the next few days.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, pushed back from Thursday's start rehabbing from a mild groin strain, is on track to work in a double-header next Tuesday in Chicago.
The four-game series continues on Friday. St. Louis ace Michael Wacha will be on six days rest and is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in nine career starts under those circumstances. San Diego's Andrew Cashner was 1-2 in six June starts and is coming off one of his best outings of the year, allowing two runs in seven innings to beat Arizona.