Brad Penny, Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin combined on a nine-hit shutout, Albert Pujols hit his team-leading seventh home run and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Sunday to avoid a series sweep.
Penny (3-0) gave up eight hits over 7 2-3 innings, striking out two with no walks while outpitching former teammate Matt Cain. The Cardinals' right-hander, who played for San Francisco in 2009, didn't allow a runner past second base while lowering his ERA to 0.94.
Pablo Sandoval and Andres Torres had three hits apiece for the Giants, who were shut out for the second time in five games.
Pujols hit a hanging slider from Cain (0-1) into the left field stands in the first inning. The Cardinals' slugger later lined a single past Cain in the third, then drilled another line drive just over the pitcher's head in the fifth. He also grounded into a double play in the seventh.
It marked the 137th time in his career that Pujols has had three hits or more in a game. He also improved to 8 for 12 lifetime against Cain.
The way Penny was pitching, that was all the offense St. Louis needed.
He held San Francisco in check all afternoon despite pitching with runners on base in every inning except the first. The burly right-hander, who went 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA with the Giants before signing with the Cardinals in the offseason, escaped his biggest jam in the seventh when he got pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff to ground out to second with two outs and two runners on.
Penny left after giving up a two-out single to Sandoval in the eighth, and Motte retired Bengie Molina to end the inning.
Franklin, the Cardinals' All-Star closer, gave up a two-out, ground-rule double to Nate Schierholtz in the ninth but retired Torres for his sixth save in six chances.
Cain gave up two runs and six hits before getting pulled for a pinch-hitter after Travis Ishikawa doubled with two outs in the fifth. San Francisco's hard-luck righty, who had no-decisions in his first three starts, had four strikeouts and one walk but got no offensive support.
It was the first matchup between Cain and Penny, who had adjoining lockers last year, but was the first time the Cardinals came out on top in this three-game series that was highlighted by stellar pitching from both teams.
NOTES: With Huff limited to a pinch-hitter appearance and IF Juan Uribe out with an elbow strain, Sandoval is the only San Francisco player to start all 18 games this season. ... St. Louis 3B Felipe Lopez was a late scratch due to soreness in his right elbow but pinch-hit for Motte in the ninth. David Freese started in Lopez's place and went 2 for 3. ... San Francisco 2B Freddy Sanchez has started playing extended spring training games and could rejoin the big league club as early as mid-May, according to Giants manager Bruce Bochy. ... San Francisco hasn't swept St. Louis since June 29-July 1, 2001 at AT&T Park.