Giants top Cardinals in former Ole Miss standout debut

ST. LOUIS – Aubrey Huff hit three home runs and matched his career best with six RBIs and the San Francisco Giants hammered a pair of rookie pitchers making their major league debuts in a 12-7 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

Huff, who entered batting .219, hit two-run homers in the fourth and ninth and a solo shot in the seventh for his first three-homer game. He also had an RBI single in the sixth. Huff raised his average 14 points while leading the surge for the Giants, who set a season high for runs.

Huff has four homers and seven RBIs the last two games after totaling four RBIs the previous 16 games.

Freddy Sanchez added a homer and four RBIs for San Francisco.

Colby Rasmus hit his second career grand slam and had a career-best six RBIs to help make it a contest for the Cardinals, who dropped three of four at home to the Giants for the first time since June 30-July 3, 2003. Albert Pujols had two hits, a steal and scored twice.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals had been 13-1-1 in their previous 15 series since dropping two of three at San Francisco from April 8-10, leaving town with a 3-6 record.

Triple-A callup Lance Lynn, a former Ole Miss standout, (0-1) needed 56 pitches to get through five innings working on three days’ rest, but retired only one of four hitters to start the Giants’ three-run sixth. Double-A reinforcement Mikail Cleto hit 98 mph several times on the stadium radar in the seventh but walked the first two hitters and surrendered back-to-back homers to Sanchez and Huff in a five-run inning that made it 10-3.

Manager Tony La Russa slotted Lynn ahead of Jaime Garcia in the rotation, giving the left-hander an extra day to get over a disastrous outing in which he surrendered 12 runs in 3 1-3 innings in Colorado. The move also set up Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter to face the Cubs in a weekend series starting Friday, but left the Cardinals short in the Giants finale.

La Russa was out to the mound for a pep talk with Cleto before Huff finished rounding the bases on his seventh homer of the season.

Jonathan Sanchez (4-3) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings, surviving a season-high six walks. Freddy Sanchez had a season high for RBIs with a three-run homer in the seventh and a run-scoring groundout in the sixth.

Rasmus’ two-run triple put the Cardinals ahead 3-0 in the third and his grand slam came in the seventh against Guillermo Mota, who has allowed at least one run in his last five appearances with a total of eight runs allowed. Hitters are 11 for 23 against him during that stretch.

NOTES: Ryan Theriot singled in the second and has a career-best 16-game hitting streak, the longest current run in the majors. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t think injured 2B Mark DeRosa (wrist) is close to returning, adding, “He says he doesn’t feel anything, which shocks me.” … Huff has 13 career multihomer games.

R.B. Fallstrom/The Associated Press