Indeed, left fielder Josh Willingham bounced to third baseman Troy Glaus, who started an inning-ending twin killing. In the ninth, Perez survived a wild pitch on a strikeout and another walk to gain his second save of the series.
"Chris came in and did a fantastic job," said Glaus, who had four of the Cardinals' 18 hits and a walk.
"He didn't get distracted," La Russa said. "That's a great sign."
Right-hander Braden Looper, who had made 200 of his 201 previous appearances at Dolphin Stadium as a Marlins reliever, gained his 11th victory, one shy of his career high set last year, with seven strong innings. Looper also had two hits, setting up two sacrifice flies by second baseman Adam Kennedy.
Looper has given up only nine earned runs in his last five starts, covering 33 innings.
Backup catcher Jason LaRue, asked to sacrifice ahead of good-hitting pitcher Looper in the sixth -- LaRue bunted successfully -- was allowed by La Russa to hit with the bases loaded and two out in a tie game in the seventh. LaRue rewarded that confidence with the two-run double that proved to be the winning margin.
Two more backups played key roles in the late innings. Rookie left fielder Joe Mather went high against the wall in front of the left-field scoreboard for a spectacular catch in the eighth. And reserve infielder Felipe Lopez tripled and scored an insurance run in the ninth.
La Russa called the effort a "true team effort. There were a lot of innings where we didn't score. Usually, that comes back to bite you."
CARDINALS 6, MARLINS 4: The Cardinals had 15 singles out of 18 hits Wednesday night and left runners on base nearly all night. But a two-run double by C Jason LaRue broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh and a run-scoring double by 3B Troy Glaus plated a run in the ninth as the Cardinals evened their record at 3-3 on their 10-game trip.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--RHP Chris Carpenter, who found out after in an exam in St. Louis that he has a strain in his right shoulder, rejoined the team but will not make his scheduled start on Friday in Cincinnati. Manager Tony La Russa called the injury an "issue," but he was happy to hear that the ailment didn't involve either Carpenter's rotator cuff or elbow, both of which have been operated on.
--RHP Brad Thompson was throwing in the bullpen late in Wednesday's game, suggesting that he will be the one making the start in Cincinnati on Friday.
--RHP Kyle McClellan gained his 28th hold but gave up two runs in the eighth inning.
--RHP Braden Looper, gaining his 11th win as he permitted five singles in seven innings, said, "I feel as good physically as I've felt all year." Looper has thrown 148 1/3 innings, on target for the first 200-inning season of his career.
--The Cardinals had 12 singles before C Jason LaRue got the first extra-base hit, a two-run double in the seventh.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Twenty-homer seasons for 3B Troy Glaus.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've always believed in myself. If I had ever stopped believing in myself, I wouldn't be here right now." -- OF Ryan Ludwick, one of the surprise stars in the National League this season.