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CHC@STL: Molina's single wins it for the Cardinals

The Cardinals have returned to the win column and they hope to stay there when they take on the Giants in a two-game series that starts Wednesday.

Before the game-winning single by Yadier Molina with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Cubs on Tuesday, the Cardinals had lost four games in a row.

They finished the homestand with a 1-4 record.

"I don't think anybody in there is panicking," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You're going to have stretches like this, and sometimes I think it's good, because then you can see how people respond. I think it develops and defines the character of a team. They're getting dealt some bad apples. When things start going bad, you have an opportunity to see what you're made of."

With the victory, the Cardinals avoided their longest losing streak since losing six in a row from June 10-16, 2011.

"We're not seeing a bunch of guys rolling over," Matheny said. "We're just seeing some things we hadn't seen before, which is pitching not going deep, defensive plays not made that had been made all season. We'll get back to it."

The Cardinals will be back at it with Jaime Garcia on the mound. The left-hander has allowed 11 runs in his last 11 2/3 innings and has been hit hard early, as six of those runs have come in the first inning.

The Giants will counter with Madison Bumgarner, who saw his five-game winning streak snapped Friday with a loss to the D-backs. His only other defeat this season also came against Arizona. In his five other starts, the lefty has given up just six earned runs over 35 innings.

Giants: Sandoval pacing club leaderboard
Despite missing 11 games because of an injury to his left hand, Pablo Sandoval still leads the team with five home runs and 15 RBIs.

• Matheny is making his first visit as a manager to the city where he spent his final two seasons as a player in 2005-06. The Cardinals' skipper appeared in 181 games with the Giants, hitting .239 with 16 home runs and 77 RBIs. Matheny's 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 2005 were both personal single-season bests.

Cardinals: Beltran hopeful for opener
Carlos Beltran was held out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive day Tuesday because of a sore right knee but made an appearance as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning against the Cubs. The Cardinals hope he's ready to go back into the lineup to start the Giants series.

• Lance Berkman was a game-time scratch Tuesday. The veteran came off the disabled list Sunday after nursing a sore left calf for more than three weeks.

Worth Noting
• With Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay on the 15-day DL with a sprained right shoulder, Skip Schumaker is expected to get at least semi-regular starts in center field. Shane Robinson was called up to take Jay's place on the roster.

• Cardinals slugger David Freese did not have a hit during the five-game homestand. He finished 0-for-16 and hit into five double plays during that stretch.

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