He was probably right.
Garland escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning with two strikeouts and went on to throw seven strong innings to help the San Diego Padres to a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.
“A tremendous lift,” Garland said in describing the effect of the two strikeouts. “I don’t want to say they let me off the hook because they are out there battling. But it’s a big pick-me-up for the whole team. Getting out it, the energy just picked everybody up.”
Garland (6-2) won his sixth straight decision, holding the Cardinals to six hits and got two inning-ending double plays. The right-handed sinkerballer struck out seven, walked two and allowed only two fly ball outs as he lowered his ERA to 2.10.
“If he doesn’t get out of the first inning, the whole complexion of the ball game could change,” Hairston said. “But that’s why he’s our ace. He was struggling there, but he still found a way to get it down.”
Felipe Lopez(notes) led off the game with a single. With one out, the slumping Albert Pujols(notes) hit a hard smash off the Garland’s heel for an infield single. After Garland walked Matt Holliday(notes) to load the bases, he got Rasmus and Freese on strikes.
“Kind of all over the place where I couldn’t find the strike zone,” Garland said in describing the first inning.
“Bases loaded and we couldn’t put the ball in play,” Freese said. “He was real effective and did what he had to do to grab the win.”
Wainwright (6-3) allowed one run and four hits over seven innings and tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts. Three of the strikeouts were of San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez(notes), who tied his career high by striking out four times.
“As you got through the first couple of innings, you could sense that both pitchers felt they had to match each other,” San Diego manager Bud Black said.
Hairston made Wainwright pay for one of his few mistakes when he hit a hanging curveball into the first row of the left-field stands.
“It was a little higher than I wanted it, maybe a little more in than I wanted it,” Wainwright said. “But most of the time he’s not getting it out. I definitely didn’t expect it. But he put a good swing on it.”
Hairston’s home run was his first since Aug. 26 when he was with the New York Yankees. It was just the 50th of his major-league career that began in 1998.
“We knew that he was going to be tough to hit,” Hairston said. “We knew that we’d have to scratch and claw for runs. In this ballpark, it’s tough to hit.”
Pujols broke out of his slump by getting three singles in four at-bats. Pujols came into the game with three hits in his last 20 at-bats over six games. He hadn’t driven in a run over his past nine games.
Garland, who had lost all three previous starts against St. Louis, has a 1.44 ERA during his six-game winning streak over seven starts. In four home starts this season, Garland is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA.
After his single in the first, Pujols lined a single to left-center and hit a line drive in the sixth that was snared by third baseman Chase Headley(notes) before a soft ground-ball single to right field in the ninth.
Pujols has one homer and eight extra-base hits in 82 at-bats in May.
NOTES: Garland’s win streak is his longest since 2006 with the Chicago White Sox when he won eight straight from June 13 through Aug. 4. … Wainwright struck out 12 on July 1, against San Francisco. … Pujols, who hit .231 with one homer and three RBIs in seven games against San Diego last season, had four hits in 24 at-bats (.167) with a solo homer in his previous six games at Petco Park. … The Padres recalled OF Luis Durango(notes) from Triple-A Portland.