PHOENIX -- Ryan Ludwick has picked up where he left off last year -- on a tear.
After ending the 2008 season on an 11-game hitting streak, the Cardinals outfielder has opened 2009 by hitting in his first seven games. Ludwick extended the streak with a two-run homer and an RBI single to help the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-7 on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's two different years," Ludwick said. "I'm just trying to go up there and get good pitches to hit and get a good part of the bat on the ball."
Ludwick, who is batting .407, made the Diamondbacks pay when they intentionally walked slugger Albert Pujols in the third. Ludwick followed with an RBI single to keep a five-run inning rolling.
"He's one of the best hitters in the game," Ludwick said. "You've got to have some protection for him or they're just going to walk him constantly."
Ludwick later added a two-run homer off Yusmeiro Petit as the Cardinals tacked on four runs in the sixth.
The Cardinals bounced back from a disheartening 7-6 loss in 10 innings Tuesday night -- a game in which starting pitcher Chris Carpenter strained his left ribcage while swinging the bat. The club put Carpenter on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and said he could be out four to eight weeks.
"I've said from day one to all of our fans, you're never going to question whether this club is ready to play," manager Tony LaRussa said.
Chris Duncan added a single, double and triple and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who have won six of seven.
St. Louis benefited from eight walks and three Arizona errors. The Cardinals batted around twice, scoring five runs in the third and four more in the sixth.
"It was really a difficult day for pitchers," LaRussa said. "Everybody that pitched struggled."
St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro (2-0) was credited with the victory despite giving up five runs in five innings and allowing nine hits, including six doubles and a homer. He walked three and struck out three.
Pineiro said he had trouble commanding his sinker.
"It was a struggle from the first pitch to the last pitch," he said. "I couldn't put the ball wherever I wanted to most of the time."
Pineiro was better than Arizona's Jon Garland (1-1), who allowed seven runs on seven hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings.
"Flat-out missed my spots, walking guys and putting them on base," Garland said. "Then when they tack on a couple of hits, it's leading to more runs."
The Chase Field roof was open on a blustery, 72-degree afternoon. Garland said the windy conditions didn't affect his command, but he added, "I will vote to have [the roof] closed every time I'm out there."
The Diamondbacks wrapped up their season-opening homestand 3-6, losing three-game series to Colorado, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis.
"Not what we were looking for," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "But you have to keep encouraged."
The Cardinals jumped ahead early.
Already leading 1-0 on Yadier Molina's second-inning single, St. Louis added five runs in the third on RBI doubles by Colby Rasmus and Duncan and run-scoring singles by Ludwick and Molina to take a 6-0 lead.
One out later, Chad Tracy hit an RBI double, and then Mark Reynolds homered into the center field overhang to cut the Cardinals' lead to 6-4. Reynolds, who hit a pinch homer on Tuesday night, homered for the second time in three at-bats.
The Cardinals made it 7-4 on Pujols' grounder to score Skip Schumaker, who led off with a double. Garland was gone after issuing back-to-back four-pitch walks to Ludwick and Duncan.
St. Louis put the game away with four runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Pujols, Ludwick's homer and Joe Thurston's RBI single.
Arizona OF Eric Byrnes hit a pinch homer on Wednesday, one day after he broke out of a 1-for-17 slump with the winning single in the 10th inning. Byrnes, who missed much of 2008 with hamstring injuries, is hitting .204 (46-for-226) with seven homers, 26 RBIs and four stolen bases since his three-year, $30 million contract took effect last season. ... Ludwick has hit in a career-best 18 straight games dating to last season. ... Pineiro stole his first career base in the third, off Garland and catcher Chris Snyder. ... Golfer Fred Couples was to attend the game as a guest of Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.