CINCINNATI -- Kyle Lohse wouldn't recommend using a suspension as a wakeup call. Serving one, however, certainly didn't hurt the St. Louis right-hander.
In his first start after sitting out for five games, Lohse pitched just well enough to get his first win in more than a month as the Cardinals snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer to help Lohse (14-6) match his career high for wins with his first victory since beating Philadelphia on Aug. 1.
"It feels good to win," said Lohse, who served the suspension from Sept. 10-14 for throwing a pitch near the head of Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez -- his opponent Thursday -- on Aug. 17 at St. Louis. "It's been a while."
Lohse was 0-3 in seven starts since his last win. The former Reds right-hander, who won 14 games for Minnesota in 2003, gave up six hits and three runs -- two earned -- with two walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
"He rose to the occasion," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "We were on a long losing streak, and he had to make a lot of tough pitches."
Volquez (16-6) lost for the first time in eight starts since Aug. 5. He was 3-0 with four no-decisions before Thursday. Volquez gave up four runs and three hits with six walks -- matching his season high -- and five strikeouts while failing for the fourth time to earn his 17th win.
"I know I'm going to get it before the end of the season," Volquez said. "Right now, it's tough, but I've got two more (starts)."
Pujols, 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series, followed walks to Cesar Izturis and Skip Schumaker in the third with a line drive that landed five rows deep in the seats just to the right of center field. It was his 34th homer of the season and first since Sept. 9.
"You know, sooner or later, Albert's going to do something," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We were holding him in check the last two days. The walks hurt."
"I threw him the wrong pitch," Volquez said. "Three-and-one, I probably should have thrown it in the dirt and walked him. You make a mistake with him and he'll make you pay."
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the second. Jolbert Cabrera reached on shortstop Izturis' two-base throwing error with one out, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Adam Rosales' single to left.
After Pujols gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead, the Reds cut it to 3-2 in the third when Jerry Hairston Jr. walked and scored from first on Jeff Keppinger's double into the left field corner.
Felipe Lopez got that run back in the fifth by driving in Aaron Miles from second with a two-out single.
Joey Votto led off Cincinnati's sixth with a bloop double down the left field line and scored on Cabrera's groundball single to center. But St. Louis got consecutive doubles from Troy Glaus and Adam Kennedy against Josh Roenicke with two outs in the eighth.
The Reds added a run in the ninth on Hairston's two-out single off Chris Perez before Jason Motte came in to earn his first career save by getting Keppinger to fly out.