Encarnacion HR lifts Cards past slumping D-backs

Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Before Miguel Montero made contact, St. Louis second baseman Aaron Miles was poised for another of the Cardinals' season-high five double plays.

Miles started the last twin killing on Montero's bouncer with the bases loaded, finishing off the 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night and giving the Cardinals consecutive one-run victories for only the second time this season.

"I was making it happen in my head before it happened, that's for sure," Miles said. "It happened like we drew it up, you might say."

Adam Wainwright carried a five-hit shutout into the eighth inning for St. Louis and Juan Encarnacion hit a three-run home run for the Cardinals.

"It's amazing what happens when you let them work, put the ball on the ground and throw strikes," Wainwright said. "My defense was awesome behind me."

Each of the infielders and Wainwright started a double play.

Wainwright (7-7) induced four inning-ending double plays and Jason Isringhausen, who earned his 17th save, got the last one for the Cardinals, who took three of four from Arizona. The Diamondbacks have lost five of six overall.

"If we execute, we win," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "We had a man on third and less than two outs twice in the last two innings and didn't get him in.

"We're not playing our best right now, so we have to grind even harder our next three games," he said.

The Cardinals (39-43) are four games below .500 for the first time since June 6, when their record was 26-30. The defending World Series champions pulled to .500 (20-20) at home heading into a three-game series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.

"This is an important win for us," manager Tony La Russa said. "How important depends on what happens this weekend."

Doug Davis (5-10) was hurt only by Encarnacion's homer in seven innings and the left-hander, who has a .074 career average, added a rare hit. Pinch-hitter Augie Ojeda's two-run triple in the eighth off Randy Flores cut the deficit to one.

Albert Pujols failed to homer for the 19th consecutive game, the longest drought of his career in terms of games, covering 62 at-bats. Pujols, tied for the team lead with 16 homers, went 68 at-bats without a homer in 2002.

Encarnacion broke up a scoreless game in the sixth. Ryan Ludwick doubled and Pujols walked before Encarnacion lined a 1-1 pitch from Davis over the left-field wall for his sixth of the season.

"He's a good mistake hitter," Davis said. "You make a mistake and he capitalizes on it. I just didn't get it in enough to make it effective."

Encarnacion, who hit 19 homers last year but got a late start in 2007 because of wrist surgery, went 36 at-bats without a homer. He went 44 at-bats without a home run before hitting his fifth of the season on June 23.

Wainwright struck out four and walked three and made his biggest pitches on double-play balls by Mark Reynolds in the second, Conor Jackson (fourth), Orlando Hudson (sixth) and Stephen Drew (seventh).

Davis lasted seven innings, giving up three runs and seven hits. He walked five, giving him a major league-leading 59, and struck out four.

Game notes
Davis, who singled leading off the sixth, is 3-for-28 (.107) this season and 19-for-254 in his career. He snapped an 0-for-51 slump with a single on June 19. ... Davis picked off his fourth runner of the season when he caught Encarnacion napping off first in the fourth. ... The Cardinals have won nine of the last 13 against Arizona at home. ... Wainwright ended a string of four straight victories by St. Louis relievers. ... Flores has allowed 14 of 22 inherited runners to score. ... Arizona center fielder Chris Young was hitless in three at-bats with a walk and is in a 1-for-15 slump. ... Davis has walked 11 in his last 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts. ... The Cardinals last turned five double plays on Aug. 18, 2005, also against the Diamondbacks.