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Venable pinch homer boosts Padres past scuffling Cardinals 5-3 in 11 innings

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ST. LOUIS — Will Venable was hardly the ideal choice to grab a bat cold off the bench. Good thing Padres interim manager Pat Murphy didn't know Venable had been 1 for 17 as a pinch hitter.

And a good thing Venable put it out of his head.

"I think as players you're attached to numbers in every situation," Venable said after his two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning helped the Padres snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the suddenly scuffling St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

"It's your job to separate yourself from those. You've got a job to do and that's it, that's all there is."

Venable connected on the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva (3-3) after the Padres successfully challenged a fair-foul ruling that resulted in a ground-rule double by Clint Barmes. The ball appeared to tick the line as right fielder Jason Heyward made an unsuccessful attempt at a sliding catch near the stands. Venable followed with his sixth homer of the year.

"I didn't see it hit," Heyward said. "Once I got up I was able to see there was a mark right on the line. So I was like 'Oh, there you go.'"

Shawn Kelley (1-2) had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his 20th save in 21 chances. Yangervis Solarte and starter Tyson Ross also homered for the Padres, who were shut out their two previous games.

"I've hit some in batting practice and it turned out to be a big run for us, going up 3-1 at the time," Ross said. "It was cool."

Heyward and Matt Carpenter had two hits and an RBI apiece for the Cardinals, who have dropped three straight for only the second time this season. St. Louis leads the majors at 51-27 and, despite the slump, also has the best home record at 29-10.

PHOTO: San Diego Padres' Melvin Upton Jr., left, is safe at first for a single as St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark Reynolds handles the throw during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 2, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
San Diego Padres' Melvin Upton Jr., left, is safe at first for a single as St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark Reynolds handles the throw during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 2, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Cardinals had won nine in a row at home before the slide, in which they've totaled five runs. They've been taxed physically and mentally lately with the last four games and five of the last six including lengthy rain delays or extra innings, with Thursday's loss five minutes shy of four hours.

"I think you get sick of the rain delays," center fielder Peter Bourjos said. "You want to be out there and play and not stop or start later, but outside of that, we're ready to play day in and day out."

Both Ross and St. Louis rookie starter Tim Cooney allowed three runs in six innings, with two earned against Cooney. Ross hit his first career homer to the opposite field in right in the fifth and Cooney doubled to begin St. Louis' two-run rally in the bottom half to tie it at 3.

Cooney lasted 2 1/3 innings his first career start April 30 against the Phillies. He handled the pressure better this time, stepping in for Jaime Garcia.

"I definitely felt better just leading up to the game and I felt a little bit more at ease," Cooney said. "Once the game got going, I was throwing some good pitches and kind of built off that."

Solarte led off the second with his third homer but was ejected for the first time in his career after arguing a strikeout to end the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: IF Will Middlebrooks has been limited to two pinch-hit appearances since injuring his ankle stepping on a bat on Sunday but could start in the next few days.

Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, pushed back from Thursday's start rehabbing from a mild groin strain, is on track to work in a double-header next Tuesday in Chicago.

UP NEXT

The four-game series continues on Friday. St. Louis ace Michael Wacha will be on six days rest and is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in nine career starts under those circumstances. San Diego's Andrew Cashner was 1-2 in six June starts and is coming off one of his best outings of the year, allowing two runs in seven innings to beat Arizona.

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PHOTO: San Diego Padres' Yangervis Solarte arrives at home after hitting a solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, July 2, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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