SAN DIEGO – Sidney Ponson beat the team he almost joined last year and Scott Rolen hit a two-run double in the decisive third inning to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres.

Although the Padres lost for the eighth time in 11 games, they kept Albert Pujols in the yard for the second straight game. Pujols, who leads the majors with 23 homers, went 0-for-4, including popping up with the bases loaded in the third. He was intentionally walked in the seventh with a runner on second and one out.

The Padres had runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth before Braden Looper got Geoff Blum to pop up to third.

San Diego beat St. Louis 7-1 Friday night in the teams’ first meeting since the Cardinals swept the Padres in the division series in October.

Ponson (4-0) came off the disabled list before the game and held San Diego to two runs on seven hits in five innings. The Cardinals handed Chan Ho Park (2-3) his second straight loss.

With two outs in the ninth, San Diego’s Mike Cameron singled and Brian Giles walked, and the game ended when Giles was picked off first by catcher Yadier Molina. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his NL-leading 16th save in 18 chances.

This pitching matchup was made possible by Phil Nevin.

The Padres tried to trade the slumping slugger to Baltimore for Ponson a week before the deadline last season, but Nevin killed the deal because the Orioles were one of eight teams covered by his no-trade clause. Texas was not on Nevin’s no-trade list, and four days later the Padres dealt him to the Rangers for Park.

Ponson, who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in December, had been on the DL since May 9 with a strained right elbow. He struck out four and walked one.

Park allowed four runs and six hits in six innings. He got into trouble in the second and third innings, when he allowed all four Cardinals runs.

With the score tied at 1, the first three Cardinals batters in the third all reached base and scored. Ponson singled to center, David Eckstein singled to right and Scott Spiezio was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pujols popped up, but Rolen hit a two-run double to right and Juan Encarnacion followed with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-1.

Rolen and Encarnacion singled to open the second, were sacrificed by So Taguchi, and Rolen scored on Yadier Molina’s groundout.

The Padres got solo home runs by Giles and Mark Bellhorn, giving them five in two games.

Giles homered off Ponson with two outs in the third, his fifth, to pull the Padres to 4-2. Bellhorn connected to left with one out in the sixth off Adam Wainwright, his third, to help San Diego close to 4-3.

San Diego’s Josh Bard hit an RBI double in the first.

Notes: Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds was a late scratch due to a stomach ailment. He is in a 3-for-28 slump. … To make room on the roster for Ponson, OF Chris Duncan was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. Duncan, the son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, was hitting .200 in four games, with one homer and three RBIs. … Park apparently needs some pine tar on his bat. His bat went flying out of his hands when he struck out in the second inning and again in the fourth when he hit a dribbler toward third base that he beat out for an infield single. His bat went farther than the ball. … Padres 3B Vinny Castilla began losing his vision just before Friday night’s game, then had a migraine so bad that he was taken to a hospital for an MRI exam. “It was horrible,” he said before Saturday’s game. Castilla, hitting just .225, already had been given Friday night off before he began having the problems.

AP-ES-05-27-06 1858EDT