"We caught a break there," said manager Tony La Russa. "Perfectly placed."
Catcher Yadier Molina fouled off a couple of Bell fastballs and then stroked an opposite-field two-run single in the eighth to put the Cardinals ahead.
"I think he's immune to the pressure," said La Russa of Molina. "He just saved the at-bat. He hit a nice breaking ball.
"He's got a beautiful stroke and he knows when to use it."
Right-hander Braden Looper allowed six runs in three innings but was taken off the hook. "It could have been a bad result," said Looper. "But the guys battled back. Now it's a little easier ride home."
Right-hander Jason Isringhausen, displaced by right-hander Ryan Franklin as the closer, was in line for his first save in more than two months but the four-run burst kept the ninth from being a save situation. Isringhausen was impressive nonetheless in a hitless inning.
"It was very good for him and good for us,'" said La Russa. "We need him.
"He knew what was at stake there. He made a lot of good pitches."
CARDINALS 11, PADRES 7: The Cardinals overcame a 6-3 deficit and then a 7-6 San Diego advantage to run their winning streak to three games Friday and move them three games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division. RF Ryan Ludwick slugged his 22nd homer to create the first tie in the fourth and CF Rick Ankiel hit his 22nd to tie the score again in the seventh.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--3B Troy Glaus continued his torrid pace with a two-for-four night. Over his last five games, Glaus has been 14 for 21.
--Seven of the Cardinals' 11 runs were scored with two out.
--LHP Randy Flores' return to the active roster means that the club will carry 13 pitchers for the next 2 1/2 weeks. The Cardinals are in the midst of playing 18 days in a row, so OF Joe Mather has been dispatched to Class AAA Memphis, even though he struck a pinch-hit homer off San Diego RHP Jake Peavy on Thursday night.
--Flores coming off the 15-day disabled list (left ankle tendinitis) wasn't the only change the Cardinals made. They sent rookie RHP Chris Perez, who has been inconsistent lately, back to Memphis and brought up RHP Kelvin Jimenez, who has been impressive at Memphis after a brief tour with the Cardinals earlier in the season. Jimenez had a 1.45 earned run average and 11 saves in 33 games at Memphis.
--RHP Braden Looper's three-inning stint was his shortest of the season. He hasn't won in four starts.
--The Cardinals scored 10 or more runs at home for the first time since April 18 and for just the second time this season at Busch Stadium.