Mike Piazza's single snapped a seventh-inning tie and the Padres got stingy relief without their record-setting closer after starter David Wells was scratched due to gout, beating the sagging St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 Monday night in a matchup of NL division leaders.
Manager Bruce Bochy told Hoffman, who had pitched in six of the last eight games, he'd have the night off no matter what. Even with two men on in the ninth, baseball's career saves leader remained seated.
"I kept peeking into the bullpen half-thinking he was maybe going to warm up to get the last out or something," Scott Linebrink said after finishing for his second save. "There was no safety net."
"I don't know how Hoffy does that almost 500 times, I think I'd have a few more gray hairs if I'd keep doing that."
Brian Giles hit a three-run double in a five-run second and the bullpen allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings to help the Padres win for the 10th time in 13 games. San Diego has a two-game lead in the NL West over idle Los Angeles with six games to play and a 1½-game edge over the wild-card contending Phillies, who lost to the Astros.
"We don't care about them," Giles said. "We're trying to take care of business ourselves and not depend on other teams helping us out."
The Cardinals, meanwhile, lost their sixth in a row and saw their Central lead cut to 2½ games by Houston, which beat Philadelphia 5-4. St. Louis led by seven games before its skid, but its magic number remained at five for the third straight game.
Jim Edmonds connected for a three-run, pinch-hit homer in his first at-bat since Aug. 26 and Chris Duncan also homered for St. Louis. Edmonds has been out while recovering from the effects of a concussion and homered for the first time since Aug. 10.
"What a way to get us back into the game," manager Tony La Russa said. "If this was a movie, we would have won the game, but we didn't."
Linebrink got four outs for the save in place of Hoffman, who posted his major league-record 479th save Sunday.
Linebrink struck out three in the ninth, fanning Scott Rolen with runners on first and second to end it.
Mike Thompson was a fill-in starter with Wells expected to miss a full turn before gout medication produces results. Thompson lasted 3 1/3 innings in his first start since Aug. 30 and allowed four earned and eight hits.
Geoff Blum and Josh Barfield drove in a run apiece in the second for the Padres, whose 41-34 road record is third-best in the NL.
Edmonds' 19th homer tied it at 5 in the fourth, helping the Cardinals overcome an early 5-1 deficit.
Giles led off the seventh with a bloop double down the left-field line and scored on Piazza's RBI single off Brad Thompson (1-2).
Scott Cassidy (6-4) struck out the side in the sixth, working around a walk and a single.
Duncan saved a run in the ninth when he threw out Dave Roberts at the plate trying to score from second on Linebrink's single to left.
The Cardinals are 46-28 at home, impressive especially when compared with their 34-47 road record. They had won five of six at new Busch Stadium before faltering in the first game of a season-ending, seven-game homestand.
Giles' drive off the base of the center-field wall capped the five-running outburst against Jeff Suppan, who had entered with a major league-leading 2.04 ERA since the All-Star break. Suppan lasted 3 2/3 innings, his shortest appearance in 15 starts since July 5, and gave up five runs, four earned.
"It was a tough night to have," Suppan said. "Basically, I missed down the middle a lot and they were able to capitalize on that."
Giles had been in a 3-for-23 slump before his first double.
"That's what's so fun about this game," Giles said. "One week it looks like you've never played and the next week it seems sometimes you can't make an out."
Duncan hit his 21st homer, and 18th since the break, in the first. Albert Pujols added a run-scoring single in the third for his 130th RBI, tying his career high set in his 2001 rookie season.
- Fill-in Cardinals SS Jose Vizcaino, subbing for injured David Eckstein, was 2-for-2 with a walk in his first start since Sept. 10. Vizcaino fouled a pitch off his foot before walking in the sixth and was taken out for a pinch runner.
- Duncan has hit 18 homers since the All-Star break, including two in the last three games.
- The go-ahead hit gave Piazza his first RBI in a week.
- Padres reliever Cla Meredith allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings and has given up only four earned runs in 48 2/3 innings for an 0.74 ERA.
- The Cardinals are only five games above .500 for the first time since May 4 when they were 17-12.