Barden's homer lifts Cards over D-backs
Brian Barden's locker smelled like a fraternity house on homecoming.
That was fitting, because it felt like homecoming for the former Arizona Diamondbacks prospect.
Barden's teammates doused him in beer to celebrate his first career homer - an eighth-inning solo shot that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks on Monday night.
"Pale ale," Barden said. "It's a great day when it happens."
The homer - and the celebratory beer shower - was even sweeter because it came against the team that drafted Barden in the sixth round in 2002. It came in front of about a dozen friends and family, including Barden's parents, who live in nearby Glendale.
Albert Pujols also homered as the Cardinals won their fifth straight. It was Pujols' fourth homer of the season, and the 323rd of his career.
"You know, it's just another home run," Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer said of Pujols' blast. "No big deal."
Barden's homer was a big deal because it won the game - and because it came against the Diamondbacks. He had moved steadily through their farm system before stalling in Triple-A Tucson, where he spent most of the 2004-2007 seasons.
Barden said he had no hard feelings toward the Diamondbacks but said he hoped to "show those guys that maybe they missed out on something."
The Cardinals claimed Barden on waivers on Aug. 13, 2007. He spent most of last season in Triple-A Memphis, batting .222 (2-for-9) for St. Louis.
Barden made the Cardinals' opening day roster this year as a utility infielder. If Barden keeps playing like this, manager Tony LaRussa will likely find a place in his lineup for him.
"It's just kind of Hollywoodish," LaRussa said. "Get a start against the old team, hit a home run in the eighth. If you talk about that, people think you'd make it up. But it actually happened, and he's a happy young man - and we're happy for him and happy he's with us."
It was Barden's second winning hit this season. He also hit a pinch single to beat Pittsburgh 2-1 on April 9 to launch the Cardinals' winning streak.
With the game tied 1-all in the eighth, Doug Davis (0-2) left a 3-2 cutter over the plate and the righty-swinging Barden lined it over the fence in right field.
"It was a great pitch," Davis said. "I believe he knew it was coming, but at the same time, you don't expect Barden to hurt you the other way, either. He put a good at-bat on me and he beat me."
Wellemeyer (1-1) went seven sharp innings, giving up one run on seven hits and striking out four.
Wellemeyer said he had simplified his delivery after giving up five runs and 12 hits in five innings against Pittsburgh in his first start. His approach worked against the Diamondbacks, who came in hitting only .218 as a team, 15th in the NL.
"I was just keeping my fastball down was the main thing, switching it up on them," Wellemeyer said.
Ryan Franklin pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
With Chase Field's roof open, Davis and Wellemeyer dueled on an 83-degree night in the desert.
Davis retired the first seven Cardinals he faced. Davis kept St. Louis off-balance most of the night, but the Cardinals made him pay for his mistakes.
Pujols lined an 0-1 pitch in the fourth inning deep into the left-field seats for his fourth homer. Then Barden homered to the open the eighth.
Davis allowed two runs on seven hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out five. Davis lasted eight innings only once in 26 starts last year.
"I'll take that 31 more times, as long as we score more than that," Davis said.
The two solo shots were enough on a night the Diamondbacks struggled to come up with big hits against Wellemeyer.
Arizona tied it at 1 in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff single by Conor Jackson and a double by Chad Tracy. But a chance for a bigger inning evaporated when Tracy took a wide turn at second and was nailed on a heads-up peg by Pujols.
In the third, the Diamondbacks had runners at second and third with one out, but Wellemeyer got Chris Young to pop to second base and then retired Stephen Drew on a dribbler to the mound.
Facing reliever Dennys Reyes in the eighth, Drew bounced to first base to strand the potential tying run at second.
"We had some opportunities, probably more so than they did," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "They had two balls that left the ballpark and we didn't cash in.
"The way we're swinging right now, we're frustrated," Melvin said.
The Diamondbacks said they would activate RHP Max Scherzer from the disabled list to start Tuesday night's game against St. Louis. Scherzer has been sidelined with a right shoulder injury. ... The Diamondbacks play their first nine games at home, and 18 of their first 21 games. But Chase Field hadn't been much of an advantage for Arizona, which fell to 2-5.