TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has practically made it his mantra: Ted Lilly has to have a good season if Toronto is going to contend in the AL East.
Lilly finally lived up to the expectations Wednesday night, pitching seven scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"If we're going to have a solid year he's got to come through for us. That's no secret," Gibbons said. "Hopefully, he finishes strong. He's off to a slow start."
Facing the Cardinals for the first time, Lilly (4-7) allowed just four singles and lowered his ERA to 6.48. He had lost his three previous starts.
The 28-year-old left-hander struck out six and walked three for his first win since May 25 versus Boston.
"It's going to take more than just me for our team to contend for this division, there's going to have to be a few of us that have to step up, and definitely myself included," Lilly said. "I understand that and I want that. It's kind of nice being at this point in the year, and knowing that I still have a chance to help us contend for the division, especially given the fact that we've haven't played well of late and I haven't pitched well."
Orlando Hudson homered for the Blue Jays, who moved back to .500 (33-33) by taking two of three from NL Central-leading St. Louis. In a series dominated by pitching, Toronto ace Roy Halladay shut out St. Louis on Monday night and Cardinals star Chris Carpenter pitched a one-hitter on Tuesday.
"It was a pitchers game in all three," St. Louis designated hitter Larry Walker said. "I guess if we played another one, it would be a 2-2 series with some kind of pitching duel for us."
Walker said their offense is not slumping.
"I think you tip your hat to what Mr. Lilly did out there. His ball was moving pretty good and he threw it where he wanted to," Walker said. "He really kept us all off-balance. We really had some ugly swings."
Gibbons didn't allow Lilly to come out for the eighth, electing instead to bring in Vinnie Chuck who gave up consecutive singles to Mark Grudzielanek and So Taguchi before Albert Pujols hit an RBI single. Left-hander Scott Schoeneweis relieved and walked Walker, the only batter he faced.
Reggie Sanders followed with an RBI single to right off Jason Frasor, cutting Toronto's lead to 5-2. But Frasor escaped the bases loaded jam by getting Scott Seabol to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Miguel Batista pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds didn't play for the third straight game because of bruised left ribs and is day-to-day.
Cardinals starter Jason Marquis (8-4) won his three previous starts, but he allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings against the Blue Jays.
Toronto rookie Aaron Hill singled in the second and scored on Hudson's homer to left. Russ Adams followed with a single, stole second and scored on Alex Rios' RBI single.
After Toronto's Shea Hillenbrand doubled in the fifth and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Marquis walked Eric Hinske before Hill hit a two-run double to right to give Toronto a 5-0 lead.
After the game, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Chad Gaudin to Triple-A Syracuse and recalled outfielder Gabe Gross. Center fielder Vernon Wells won't be with the team this weekend because his wife is due to have a baby this Friday. ... The Cardinals have Thursday off before playing in Tampa Bay this weekend. ... The Blue Jays also have Thursday off before hosting Milwaukee. ... St. Louis manager Tony La Russa needs two wins to tie Bucky Harris for fourth place in all-time managerial wins at 2,157.