ST. LOUIS (AP) -Kevin Kouzmanoff still has a soft spot in his heart for National League Stadiums.
The Oakland third baseman capped off a strong nine-game road trip through the NL with a 4 for 4 performance on Sunday in leading the Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kouzmanoff turned in the fifth four-hit game of his career and his first this season. He had two singles, a double, and also slammed a solo home run in the fourth inning to help Oakland snap a four-game losing streak. The Athletics closed out a difficult nine-game swing through San Francisco, Chicago and St. Louis with a 2-7 mark.
Kouzmanoff, who spent the previous three seasons with the San Diego Padres, was 15 for 36 during the trip and showed he can still flourish in NL cities. His performance helped the A's build some momentum as they head home for a six-game homestand.
``It's good for us to finish the series the right way and carry it going into this week,' he said. ``It's pretty important.'
Oakland used Kouzmanoff's timely hitting and a strong all-around pitching performance to cool off the Cardinals, who went 4-2 on a six-game homestand.
St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday hit two home runs Sunday and finished 8 for 12 in the series with four home runs and eight RBIs. It was the 14th multi-homer game of his career.
``You feel more confident when you get results,' said Holliday. ``It's a day-to-day battle. You keep grinding it out.'
A's starter Trevor Cahill and relievers Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey held the St. Louis offense in check, except for Holliday. Bailey recorded four outs for his 13th save in 16 opportunities. He got Albert Pujols to fly out with runners on first and third to end the eighth.
``I just wanted to challenge him,' Bailey said of his showdown with Pujols. ``Any time you can get Pujols to pop up with a runner on third - it's a big out.'
Pujols, who was 1 for 4 with two strikeouts, is still hitting a league-best .349 for his career in interleague play.
Oakland managed Bob Geren was impressed with the way Bailey attacked the St. Louis hitters.
``All saves should not be counted equally,' Geren said. ``That was a tough one. He went through the 3-4-5-6 hitters in the order. And he got it done.'
Breslow (2-1) picked up the win with 1 2-3 innings of hitless relief.
Cahill allowed just four hits and two runs in six innings. He tied a career high with seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter, but surrendered home runs to Holliday in the fourth and sixth.
``I was able to throw strikes, that was the biggest thing,' Cahill said. ``I felt good. But you really can't make mistakes to a guy like that who's heating up.'
Kouzmanoff ripped his seventh home run of the season off St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan in the fourth to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.
``Today, I got good pitches to hit and I hit them,' said Kouzmanoff. ``Yesterday, I got good pitches to hit also but didn't hit them. Baseball is just a weird game like that.'
Oakland pinch-hitter Mark Ellis snapped a 2-2 tie with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Conor Jackson with the game-winning run. Blake Hawksworth (1-4) took the loss in relief for St. Louis.
Jackson and Kouzmanoff started the eighth inning rally with back-to-back singles with one out. Ellis then hit his sacrifice fly to deep left field off reliever Trever Miller.
St. Louis starter Suppan allowed seven hits and two runs in 4 2-3 innings in his second start for the Cardinals since being signed on June 14.
``There were a few times where I missed - bad location, which was frustrating,' Suppan said. ``But I felt there was a lot of improvement.'
NOTES: St. Louis has won 11 of 12 series at home this season. ... Oakland 1B Daric Barton has played in all 71 games, leading the AL. ... The A's are is 17-9 in day games and 17-28 at night. ... Suppan had a seven-game interleague hitting streak snapped with an 0 for 1 performance. He has 13 hits in interleague play, tied for second all-time behind C.C. Sabathia with 14. ... St. Louis C Yadier Molina, who is hitless in his last 19 at_bats, was given the day off. ... A crowd of 42,271, the 10th sellout of the season, watched the game in 90 degree temperatures.
The Associated Press News Service
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