ST. LOUIS (AP) — Allen Craig is regaining his form at the plate.
Three weeks after seeing his average fall to .202, the Cardinals first baseman doubled and homered in a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night to improve to .255. He has six multi-hit games in his past nine contests while going 15 for 36.
"I felt like I had a good approach and was aggressive," Craig said after going 2 for 3 against the Giants. "I hit the ball decent, so it was a good night."
He drove in two runs and leads the team with 29 RBIs.
It looked like he might have the game-winner Thursday, but Michael Morse homered and drove in three runs and Pablo Sandoval homered and scored twice to propel the Giants in the opener of a four-game series.
"It looked like the day off served him well," manager Bruce Bochy said of Morse, who sat for the first time this season Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs. "A home run and that big hit off of one of the more dominant closers in the game with the power arm that he has."
The Giants, at the start of a seven-game trip to St. Louis and Cincinnati, have won seven of eight.
The Cardinals have dropped three of four to start their nine-game home stand.
Gregor Blanco scored from second on Angel Pagan's single to center to tie the score at 4-4 in the eighth. Third base coach Tim Flannery initially held Blanco at third because of center fielder Peter Bourjos' good arm.
But Blanco scored when the throw bounced on the home plate side of the mound and past three Cardinals, including Carlos Martinez (0-3), who was in front of catcher Yadier Molina rather than backing up the throw. Pagan moved up to second on the throw.
Matheny said Martinez stopped when he saw Blanco stay at third. He stabbed at the throw from Bourjos, keeping Molina from making the catch and allowing the ball to go to the screen.
"Yaddy never was able to see the ball," Matheny said. "As soon as that ball's hit, they all know, they've got to get behind the catcher. He was in the wrong spot and it ended up hurting."
Trevor Rosenthal came in after Martinez intentionally walked Sandoval, but Morse doubled just past a diving Bourjos to drive in Pagan and Sandoval to give the Giants a 6-4 lead.
Javier Lopez (1-0) got two groundouts in relief of Ryan Vogelsong for his first win since Sept. 22, 2013, at the New York Yankees.
Sergio Romo gave up a run on Matt Carpenter's two-out single, but held on for his 17th save in 19 chances. Romo has surrendered four runs in the past three games, raising his ERA to 3.52.