ST. LOUIS (AP) — Michael Morse rewarded his manager for giving him a rare day off.
Morse homered and drove in three runs and Pablo Sandoval homered and scored twice to propel the San Francisco Giants to a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
"It looked like the day off served him well," said manager Bruce Bochy, who sat Morse 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-all in the eighth. Third base coach Tim Flannery initially held Blanco at third because of center fielder Peter Bourjos' strong 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. Trevor Rosenthal came in after Martinez intentionally walked Sandoval, but Morse doubled just past a diving Bourjos to drive in Pagan and Sandoval and give the Giants a 6-4 lead.
"I knew he was going to come with something hard," Morse said. "I just tried to be short. I just tried to touch something."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Martinez stopped when he saw Blanco stayed 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."
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 and had his ERA rise to 3.52.
Morse, in his first season with the Giants, has nine hits in his past 16 at-bats, with five doubles, a triple and the home run. He's driven in eight during that five-game span and has a team-high 37 RBIs for the year.
"We're just playing," he said. "The mentality we have and the fun we're having, I think winning is contagious and we love to win. We're just going to keep going at it."