PHOENIX (AP) – Luis Gonzalez led off the ninth inning with a home run to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night, salvaging the finale of a four-game series.

The Diamondbacks snapped a six-game home losing streak after St. Louis manager Tony La Russa’s ninth-inning gamble failed.

John Mabry, 3-for-4 for the Cardinals, led off the ninth with a single, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and groundout. That’s when La Russa chose to allow starter Jason Marquis to bat against reliever Lance Cormier.

Marquis struck out swinging to strand the runner. La Russa brought on Ray King (2-2) to pitch the ninth, and Gonzalez lofted a 2-2 pitch just over the right field fence for his 12th home run. Cormier (4-0) got the victory.

Kelly Stinnett gave Arizona its first lead of the series, 1-0, with a leadoff home run in the third.

The Cardinals tied it in the eighth and threatened to get more. Starter Claudio Vargas hit Yadier Molina in the left wrist, forcing the St. Louis catcher to leave the game. With one out, pinch-runner Hector Luna advanced to third when David Eckstein singled on a hit-and-run play.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin brought in left-hander Armando Almanza to pitch to the left-handed batting Jim Edmonds, then La Russa countered by having the right-handed hitting Albert Pujols pinch hit. Still, Almanza, in his Diamondbacks debut, got Pujols to pop out on one pitch.

Jose Valverde relieved Almanza and gave up an RBI single to Reggie Sanders, then walked Larry Walker to load the bases. Third baseman Troy Glaus kept the game deadlocked by grabbing Scott Rolen’s sharp line drive to end the inning.

Vargas, in his fifth start and eighth appearance since being claimed off waivers from Washington, blanked St. Louis on three hits through seven innings. He ended up going 7 1-3, allowing one run, striking out six and walking two. Marquis, winless in his last five starts, gave up one run and four hits in eight innings.

After Stinnett’s third home run of the season in the third, Vargas singled and went to second on a balk by Marquis. Chad Tracy walked to put runners at first and second with one out.

But Edmonds made a lunging catch of Gonzalez’s deep drive to center, then Glaus struck out for the second time of the night, angrily hurling his bat toward the dugout to scattered boos from the crowd.

Edmonds’ grab was one of two big defensive plays for St. Louis. Shortstop Eckstein robbed Luis Terrero of a bloop single with a diving catch behind third base in the seventh.

Notes: In Vargas’ previous three starts, all victories, Arizona scored 26 runs. … Edmonds was shaken up after his big catch but, after a few minutes to recover, stayed in the game. … After scoring 17 runs in the first two games of the series, the Cardinals scored three in the last two.

AP-ES-07-08-05 0041EDT

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