Cardinals 14, Padres 4
Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals picked a perfect time for a banner game at the plate while the San Diego Padres got a rough outing from one of their best pitchers at a key point in the season.
Molina went 4 for 4 with a career-high five RBIs and the Cardinals pounded out a season-high 19 hits in a 14-4 victory against San Diego on Friday night.
The Cardinals have won two straight to move within six games of NL Central-leading Cincinnati, which lost 5-3 at Houston.
St. Louis, which has 16 games left on its schedule, also set a season high for runs.
''It was a very timely outbreak,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''Big hits with men in scoring position.''
The Padres fell 1 1/2 games behind wild card-leading Atlanta, which beat the New York Mets 6-4. They remained a half-game back of San Francisco in the NL West after the Giants lost 3-0 to Milwaukee.
San Diego led the division by 6 1/2 games after beating Arizona on Aug. 25 but has dropped 16 of 22 since.
Matt Holliday homered and drove in three runs for the Cardinals. Albert Pujols added three hits and two RBIs. Colby Rasmus had three hits and scored four times.
''It's good to feel this way,'' Molina said. ''We did it tonight - big hits.''
St. Louis has won 11 consecutive games against San Diego at Busch Stadium, tying the longest active streak in the major leagues. San Francisco has won 11 in a row at home over Texas, and Toronto has an 11-game home winning streak against Baltimore.
The Cardinals handed rookie Mat Latos the worst loss of his career. Latos (14-7) lasted just 1 1-3 innings and gave up eight runs.
Latos recently set a major league record with 15 consecutive starts of allowing two runs or less in five innings or more. That streak ended when he gave up five runs in four innings during a 14-6 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
San Diego manager Bud Black said Latos seems fine to him.
''They took advantage of some pitches up in the zone,'' he said. ''It was their night.''
Latos said fatigue is not a factor in his recent struggles.
''I'm still throwing 97 (mph),'' Latos said. ''My body feels fine. My arm feels fine. I just got hit.''
Kyle Lohse (4-7) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings for St. Louis. He underwent surgery for a nerve compression problem in his right forearm earlier in the season and spent 84 days on the disabled list.
''I'm just trying to finish the season strong and get some momentum for the end of the year,'' Lohse said. ''I felt like I'm making progress.''
Molina highlighted a five-run outburst in the second with a bases-loaded single that brought in two runs and pushed the lead to 7-2. His double in the opening inning put St. Louis up 3-1. Molina, who tied a career high with his four hits, added a run-scoring double in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth.
Holliday hit his 27th homer, a solo shot, off Wade LeBlanc in the sixth.
Miguel Tejada hit his 299th career homer in the first to give San Diego a 1-0 lead.
Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin returned to the team and gave up a solo homer to Chase Headley in the ninth. Franklin had been at home in Oklahoma for a few days on personal business.
NOTES: Adrian Gonzalez is 2 for 20 against the Cardinals this season. ... San Diego RHP Chris Young will make his first start since April 6 on Saturday. Young missed 144 games with a right shoulder strain. Black says Young will be limited to around 75 pitches. ''He's excited about it and we're excited for him,'' Black said. ... The Cardinals were 10 of 21 with runners in scoring position.