The Cardinals don't know for sure if right-hander Chris Carpenter can make his next start, scheduled for Tuesday at home against Houston, although it appears it is likely that he can.
But they were concerned enough about his back stiffness Wednesday to scratch him from a start against the San Francisco Giants and go with a "bullpen" start, which involved five Cardinals relievers.
The featured performer was Adam Wainwright, who not only gained his second win, 10-4, with a three-inning stint but homered on the first pitch he ever saw as a big leaguer. That came in the fifth inning after Wainwright had given up two runs to the Giants in the fourth. The surprise blast seemed to spark the Cardinals, who took advantage of some loose Giants defense to score two runs in the sixth and four in the seventh.
The Cardinals' starter was right-hander Brad Thompson, who had a record-setting scoreless-innings streak of 49 in Double-A a couple of years ago. Thompson, making his first big-league start after 75 relief appearances, labored through 39 pitches and made just two innings in place of Carpenter.
"(Carpenter) had been progressing," said manager Tony La Russa. "But during (Tuesday's game), he said he felt a little pull."
"We kind of knew we had to put the game on our shoulders," said Wainwright. Besides Wainwright homering from the ninth spot in the order, pitcher Jason Marquis tripled as a pinch hitter from the No. 9 position, and Looper, in his first at-bat of the season, doubled.
"Our pitchers did an incredible job," said left fielder Scott Spiezio. "Our pitchers aren't supposed to be up there hitting, but they made it look easy." Wainwright joked, "We don't mess around with singles."
Of his momentous home run, he said, "It happened so fast, I didn't even know I was up to bat."
REPLAY: Struggling Yadier Molina drove in the tying run with a single in the sixth and got another RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh. In the sixth, the Cardinals parlayed three singles, a Giants error by losing pitcher Noah Lowry and a sacrifice fly for two go-ahead runs.
In the seventh, the Cardinals received three of their seven walks, had two infield hits and had only one hit to the outfield -- a "seeing-eye" single by right fielder Juan Encarnacion. But that added up to four runs in the inning and a series victory as the Cardinals moved 15 games over .500 for the first time.
--RHP Adam Wainwright became the first Cardinal to homer in his first big-league at bat since 2B Hector Luna did it on April 8, 2004 against Milwaukee.
--2B Hector Luna extended his hitting streak to four games by getting two singles. He has seven hits in the streak.
--LF Scott Spiezio is playing as if he doesn't want to return to the bench in any capacity. The valuable utilityman had two more hits Wednesday as he moved his hitting streak to seven games.
--SS David Eckstein also has a seven-game streak by virtue of a third-inning single.
--RF Juan Encarnacion had two hits and a walk on top of a two-hit, three-RBI game on Tuesday night.
--OF So Taguchi drove in three runs and hit his first homer of the season.