PHOENIX – Ryan Ludwick homered and drove in three runs and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-7 on Wednesday afternoon.

Ludwick is batting .407 and has hit in all seven games he’s played this season. He singled home a run in the third inning and added a two-run homer in the sixth.

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.

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 was better than Arizona’s Jon Garland (1-1), who allowed seven runs on seven hits and five walks in 3 2-3 innings. In his first two starts with the Diamondbacks, Garland has given up 10 earned runs in 10 2-3 innings.

The Diamondbacks wrapped up their season-opening homestand 3-6, losing three-game series to Colorado, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis.

The Cardinals jumped ahead early on a blustery, 72-degree afternoon.

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.

But Pineiro promptly gave most of the lead back. With one out in the third, he gave up a run on back-to-back doubles by Felipe Lopez and Conor Jackson.

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.

Notes: 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 Diamondbacks’ 7-6 victory in 10 innings. 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.

AP-ES-04-15-09 1910EDT

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