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Padres avoid dropping under .500

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Robert Fick was only half joking when he said
it felt like the San Diego Padres had just won the World Series.

The Padres were ecstatic after breaking their season-high
eight-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis
Cardinals on Wednesday night. Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman
combined on a three-hitter and Fick was mobbed after driving in the
winning run with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.

"It's been tough," said Fick, whose value to the Padres
probably increased earlier Wednesday when it was learned starting
catcher Ramon Hernandez will have surgery on his injured left
wrist. "We've been grinding. We're in first place but haven't been
playing like a first-place team. Jake really went out there tonight
and kept us in the game. He was lights-out."

Ryan Klesko started the winning rally off Jason Marquis (9-8)
when he aggressively turned what might have been a single to center
into a double with one out, then was replaced by pinch-runner
Damian Jackson. Joe Randa was intentionally walked to bring up
Fick, who drove a 2-1 pitch to right-center to score Jackson.

The Padres improved to one game over .500 (51-50) and kept a
three-game lead over second-place Arizona in the NL West.

Peavy, the Padres' ace, struck out 10 and allowed two hits and
one run in eight innings.

Hoffman (1-4) took over in the ninth and allowed a leadoff
single to John Rodriguez. He got Albert Pujols to fly out,
intentionally walked Jim Edmonds, then struck out John Mabry and
got Mark Grudzielanek to fly out to right.

"It was a good night for the boys, to win it in that fashion,"
Peavy said. "Hopefully we'll get some momentum now that the
monkey's off our back. Now tomorrow we can come to the ballpark
just worrying about winning a game, not worrying about breaking
some streak or anything else."

Peavy was coming off his worst start of the season, when he
allowed seven runs in five innings of a 12-0 loss at New York last
Thursday.

He was strong against the Cardinals, though, allowing one run
and walking two while reaching double figures in strikeouts for the
fifth time this season.

Peavy allowed Abraham Nunez's RBI triple to right to score Mabry
with two outs in the second, then retired 19 of the last 21 batters
he faced. Mabry reached on a one-out walk.

Peavy didn't allow a hit after Nunez's triple.

"The way he was going, you couldn't," Peavy said. "Marquis
was awfully good and at the time it was 1-0. Runs are awfully hard
to come by in this ballpark. I knew I couldn't give up any more, to
be honest."

Marquis pitched a career-high 8 1/3 innings, allowing two runs
and six hits, striking out four and walking five.

Marquis threw 112 pitches through eight innings, and said he
felt good enough to go back out for the ninth.

"It was my game to win or lose," said Marquis, who gave up
Fick's single on a slider down and away.

"I didn't feel like I missed," Marquis said. "He just went
down and got it."

Marquis finished with 132 pitches, and was still hitting 94 mph
with his fastball in the ninth.

"He got in a good groove and he felt good," manager Tony La
Russa said. "I gave him the benefit of the doubt."

Peavy scored the Padres' first run after beating out an infield
single with one out in the third. He advanced on Dave Roberts'
single to right and scored on Mark Loretta's single to left. Brian
Giles walked to load the bases, but Klesko hit into a 1-2-3 double
play to end the inning.

Game notes
Hernandez sought a second opinion from a specialist in Los
Angeles, who confirmed that he has a small cartilage tear. Surgery
is scheduled for Friday and Hernandez is expected to be out 3 to 6
weeks. ... Giles was called out on an appeal in the sixth after
taking second on Klesko's fly out to center fielder Edmonds.
Replays showed Giles' foot was still on the bag when Edmonds made
the catch.