OAKLAND, Calif. -- A night earlier, Ryan Ludwick was one of only two St. Louis starters without a hit. His timing couldn't have been better Sunday -- against his former organization no less.
Ludwick hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning and drove in a career-high five runs, leading the Cardinals to their first interleague series win in four tries this season with a 10-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Ludwick added a two-run single in the eighth, his career-high tying third hit of the game.
"It's nice. Any time you can get back at your old team, there's a little extra emotion behind it," Ludwick said. "The most important part is getting two out of three here, coming back home .500 on the road trip. It's big for us. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling."
Colby Lewis (0-2) allowed three straight singles to start the seventh before Ludwick's high drive landed in the elevated seats in left-center for his third homer. Lewis' streak of 24 straight retired batters ended on Albert Pujols' base hit up the middle to start the rally. The 28-year-old Ludwick was drafted in the second round by Oakland in 1999 but never played for the A's in the majors.
The Cardinals' comeback kept Anthony Reyes from becoming the first St. Louis pitcher to lose nine straight decisions to start a season since Danny Jackson did it from April 27 to July 2, 1995.
Reyes, the winner in Game 1 of the World Series against Detroit last fall who is 0-8 this year, was called up Saturday from Triple-A Memphis to make his 10th start of 2007.
He plunked two batters in the A's five-run first inning, but got a 1-2-3 second and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. The right-hander has lost 10 straight regular-season decisions dating to his last win on Sept. 3, 2006, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He lost his final two decisions of 2006 and went winless in his last four outings of last year.
"I wasn't nervous, just a different setting, different from pitching up here than down there," Reyes said. "It'll take a little time to get comfortable again and I'll try my best to grind it out."
Russ Springer (3-0) struck out two in a perfect sixth to win for the second time in as many days.
Juan Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 17 games -- a Cardinals' season high -- with a single in the seventh. He grounded out with the bases loaded to end the fourth, when St. Louis scored twice to pull within 5-4. Scott Spiezio hit a solo homer in the first and So Taguchi added a fourth-inning RBI single to give him a 10-game hitting streak.
A's designated hitter Jack Cust received a vote of confidence before the game, then showed his Oakland bosses exactly why they should keep him in the mix.
Cust hit a three-run homer for his first longball this month after the team announced that Mike Piazza will be brought back from the disabled list as a catcher and a DH in order to keep giving Cust chances.
Cust connected with one out in the first for his ninth homer of the year and first since May 19, and Bobby Crosby had a pair of RBI doubles for Oakland.
But the A's typically reliable defense and pitching didn't get it done.
"This team is known for its pitching and it kept us in tons of games," Cust said. "It's surprising when we're used to what usually goes on, but you're not going to go out and give up (only) two runs every game."
The A's brass met after the game to talk about potential moves with the pitching staff, which is still missing injured starter Rich Harden, closer Huston Street and righty reliever Justin Duchscherer.
Crosby and Jason Kendall each doubled in runs in the first to stake Joe Kennedy to a big lead. Cust also doubled in the fourth and singled leading off the seventh for his third straight three-hit game. He's the 11th player in Oakland history to do it and the first since Scott Hatteberg -- coming to town with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday -- from April 8-10, 2003, at Texas.
The A's delayed the scheduled start of Piazza's rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Sacramento to give him more time to get his arm in shape so he can catch. The 38-year-old Piazza has been sidelined since May 3 with a sprained right shoulder.
This was the most competitive game of the three after a 15-6 Cardinals victory Saturday a night after the A's won the series opener 14-3.
For defending World Series champion St. Louis, this series was a positive step.
"We're not in a great position," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We've got more problems than pluses, but I wouldn't count us out."
- The A's dropped their first series since May 25-27 at Baltimore.
- Oakland made three errors in a game for the fourth time this year and first since May 13.
- A's third baseman Eric Chavez missed his second straight game with soreness on the left side of his rib cage area. Marco Scutaro played in Chavez's place for the second straight day.
- The A's drew a sellout crowd of 35,077, including 1,000 standing-room only tickets.