ST. LOUIS -- For a change, hard luck Anthony Reyes had a huge cushion. He helped out with his second hit of the season and first career RBI.
"I've been going out there thinking I've got nothing to lose," Reyes said. "I'm letting it all on the line, and I'll just try to keep that going."
Reyes (2-11) worked six innings and had an RBI during a five-run third that broke it open for St. Louis, which took two of three from the sagging Dodgers to complete a 5-2 homestand.
"It's a beautiful thing," Ludwick said. "Things are going well."
The Cardinals knocked out Mark Hendrickson in the third without Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Juan Encarnacion. Their patchwork pitching staff, which has the second-worst ERA in the National League at 4.74, wrapped up a stingy stretch in which the opposition totaled six runs in six games.
Although they're 55-60, the Cardinals were 5½ games out of first place in the NL Central entering a seven-game trip to the teams they're chasing, Milwaukee and Chicago, starting Tuesday.
"We have a chance to make up for a lot of the bad baseball we've played earlier this season and set ourselves up for a very interesting final six weeks of the season," catcher Gary Bennett said. "We're definitely looking forward to it."
Edmonds and Rolen received days off due to a heat wave that had the temperature at 99 degrees at game time, and Encarnacion was scratched due to knee soreness but said he could have played. Encarnacion has been the odd-man out in the outfield all four games since Rick Ankiel was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday.
Reyes allowed two runs and seven hits and is salvaging a lost year after becoming the first Cardinals pitcher since 1898 to begin the year 0-10. Both of his victories have come in his last four starts, and since being recalled on July 28 for a doubleheader against the Brewers, Reyes has a 3.33 ERA.
Along with the rare victory, Reyes enjoyed rare offensive backing. Six of the Cardinals' 10 shutout losses have come with the right-hander on the mound, and they entered the game averaging 2.18 runs in his starts -- lowest in the majors.
The Cardinals' 18 hits set a season high. Their previous best was 17 in a 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals on June 20.
"It's nice, and I'll take it when I can get it," Reyes said. "But I'm still going to go out there and try to get them zeros."
Andre Ethier tripled and doubled with an RBI for the punchless Dodgers, who have lost eight of 10. During that stretch, Los Angeles has been shut out four times, scored one run once and two runs twice.
The Dodgers (60-57) are down to three games above .500 for the first time since April 14 when they were 7-4. Manager Grady Little has tinkered with the lineup, batting James Loney third all weekend, and hinted more changes may be coming.
"We're just trying to shake it up to get these guys going, because right now there are too many people in our lineup who are underachieving," Little said. "Something needs to be done, because this isn't good enough."
Hendrickson (4-7) lasted 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season, and gave up eight runs and 11 hits. He's 1-7 in his last 12 starts and 0-3 in five outings since his last win on July 8, and exited after David Eckstein's line drive up the middle ripped his glove off and bruised fingers on both hands.
"I just wasn't executing pitches," Hendrickson said. "I'm just making too many mistakes early on, putting us behind."
Ludwick, moved from fifth in the order to cleanup after Encarnacion was scratched, hit a three-run homer in the first. The Dodgers scored two in the second on Ethier's RBI triple and a sacrifice fly by Ramon Martinez before the Cardinals opened it up in the third, sending 10 batters to the plate.
Miles, Reyes, Ryan, Ludwick and David Eckstein drove in a run apiece for an 8-2 lead.
- Reyes has allowed 29 runs in the first two innings, and 26 thereafter.
- Hendrickson is 0-3 with a 7.65 ERA against the Cardinals.
- St. Louis has outscored the opposition 105-36 during its 15 wins since the All-Star break, and has been outscored 121-32 in its 15 losses.
- Ankiel doubled and scored in the third, going 1-for-4. He's 6-for-16 with three homers and six RBI since being recalled Thursday.
- Reyes was 1-for-21 at the plate before his hit.