ST. LOUIS -- A 30-minute talk with two coaches and some intense film study helped Todd Wellemeyer rebound impressively from his worst start of the season.
On Saturday, the right-hander lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up three runs against Minnesota.
The half-hour conversation with pitching coach Dave Duncan and bullpen coach Marty Mason and looking at some tapes worked well as Wellemeyer allowed two runs and seven hits in a season-high 7 1/3 innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
Wellemeyer carried a five-hit shutout into the seventh before a two-run homer by Aaron Rowand ended his night.
"We narrowed it down to just the most simple thing for all pitchers -- get a balance point," Wellemeyer said. "When you figure [the problem] out, it feels good. Now it's just a matter of continuing it."
Wellemeyer, who improved to 7-7, picked up his first victory since June 17. He went 1-3 with a 6.89 ERA in June after starting the season 3-2.
"It's the best I've felt all year," he said. "It's a lot easier when you're on balance. That's the key."
Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan took care of the offense for St. Louis with two hits each. They combined to help the Cardinals push across three runs in the first inning against Barry Zito (4-8), who gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Giants finished a 10-game trip at 5-5.
Ludwick had a bases-loaded single off the glove of shortstop Juan Uribe in the first, Yadier Molina walked with the bases loaded and Chris Duncan's RBI ground out capped St. Louis' first inning.
Zito settled down, retiring 12 hitters after the first five hitters of the game reached safely.
"With the bases loaded and no out, the momentum is in their favor," Zito said. "It's not the way you want to start the game."
The Cardinals chased Zito with two runs in the fifth on a double by Ryan, a run-scoring ground out by Schumaker and Ludwick's single.
Ryan Franklin worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 20 opportunities.
But it was the bounce-back effort by Wellemeyer that stole the show.
"He kept attacking the zone with everything," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He was charging after the hitters with quality pitches."
Ludwick, who was in the middle of both of St. Louis' run-scoring innings, was happy to see Wellemeyer gain a much-needed shot of confidence.
"That was the best part of the night, seeing him do what he did," Ludwick said.
Added Ryan, "He needed that and we needed that."
Randy Winn and Bengie Molina both had two hits for the Giants.