Wells outpitches Maddux in Cardinals’ 2-1 victory over Padres

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—The Cardinals jumped on Greg Maddux before he had a chance to break a sweat in 96-degree heat, and Kip Wells made sure the early lead stood up.

Wells limited San Diego to an unearned run in seven innings, and first-inning RBIs from Juan Encarnacion and Albert Pujols gave St. Louis just enough offense in a 2-1 victory over the Padres on Wednesday night.

“You’re always glad to finish up good,” Maddux said. “You can’t win a game in the first couple of innings but you can sure lose it, and I kind of did that.”

Encarnacion’s RBI double off the left-field wall was the second in a string of four straight hits to start the first off Maddux. Encarnacion’s hit atoned for his fielding error in right field in the top of the inning that allowed Mike Cameron to score from first base on Adrian Gonzalez’s single.

Pujols followed Encarnacion’s hit with the go-ahead run-scoring single, helping the Cardinals win for only the second time in eight games. David Eckstein had two hits and scored a run after his leadoff hit in the first.

“Guys like Maddux and (Jake) Peavy, you need to get them early before they get comfortable,” Pujols said. “You saw that we didn’t get any more hits after that. That’s why he’s a future Hall of Famer.”

Wells (5-13) won for the first time in four starts, giving up six hits. He struck out four and walked none in one of his best outings of the season.

Facing Maddux and pitching in the heat served as incentive for Wells, whose 13 losses is tied for the most in the National League. He was on target a lot more than his previous start, a 3-2 loss at Washington, in which he walked five.

“I was considerably more efficient, which is a plus,” Wells said. “The fact that it’s 150 degrees out there doesn’t help but force the issue.”

Wells exited with a 5.27 ERA, well down from mid-June, when he was sent to the bullpen for a time with a 2-11 record and 6.93 ERA.

“That’s the way he’s been pitching,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s given us a bunch of quality starts.”

Jason Isringhausen allowed runners to reach first and second with two outs in the ninth before retiring Morgan Ensberg for his 22nd save in 24 chances and first since July 31.

Isringhausen rebounded after surrendering three runs—two earned—in the ninth inning of the Padres’ 4-0 victory on Tuesday.

Cameron had two hits for the Padres, who lost for the second time in seven games.

Maddux, 0-5 in eight starts since June 27, remained stuck on 340 career wins. After the four opening hits, the 41-year-old right-hander faced only one batter over the minimum and allowed no more hits the rest of his six-inning stint.

Maddux (7-9) struck out five and walked none, requiring only 72 pitches. He leads the NL in walks per nine innings at 1.4, and has walked none in four of his last five outings covering 29 1-3 innings.

Maddux doubled to lead off the fifth but then ran himself out of a scoring opportunity when he was easily thrown out at third on Brian Giles’ grounder to short, guessing that third baseman Scott Rolen would field it or it would be a hit.

“Bad read, bad read,” Maddux said. “I was totally wrong.”


C Michael Barrett was back in the Padres’ lineup after missing two games when he was struck in the facemask by a foul ball. He went 1-for-3. … The Giles brothers, Brian and Marcus, are a combined 6-for-37 against Wells. … The Cardinals won only their second one-run decision since the All-Star break. In their 11 previous victories since the break, they had outscored the opposition 80-32. … Geoff Blum is 5-for-31 as a pinch hitter and Scott Hairston is 3-for-21 after coming up empty in the seventh and eighth for the Padres. … The Padres’ Milton Bradley made his first appearance in five games. Bradley pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth and walked, and Peavy came on to pinch run for him. … Eckstein said he lost seven pounds during the game. … La Russa said he didn’t drink any water in the first when the Cardinals scored, so being “stupidly superstitious” he refused to drink any the rest of the game. La Russa made a beeline for the drink dispenser in the interview room before beginning his post-game remarks.

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