ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny guessed right batting Yadier Molina cleanup for the first time all season.
Molina capped an impressive game with his 100th career homer in the bottom of the eighth that snapped a tie in a 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
"Good timing," Molina said, encapsulating the day. "I got to help my team win."
Molina added an RBI single in the first and, from his knees, threw out Kelby Tomlinson trying to steal in the seventh. Molina has done that a handful of times this season.
"He's the best catcher in baseball by far," St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia said. "He's the best, he's awesome."
Molina was proudest of his second homer in three days. He's hit just four homers this year after averaging 14 long balls in each of his previous four seasons.
"I mean, I can't lie to you, I was thinking about it," Molina said. "I was hoping to do it early enough so I could get it out of the way."
Rookie Stephen Piscotty homered in the third for St. Louis, which took two of three from the NL West-contending Giants. The Cardinals are 77-43 overall and 46-19 at home, both tops in the majors.
"They found a way to win, that's why their record is what it is," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Kevin Siegrist (5-0) allowed a walk in the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal earned his 38th save in 40 chances, striking out pinch-hitting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to end it.
Bumgarner's first career pinch hit led to a Giants insurance run in Tuesday's 2-0 victory.
"Ain't nobody going to try to give anybody any mercy," Bumgarner said. "Anybody that goes up there in that situation is going to get his best."
Siegrist won both of the games in the series, both over Hunter Strickland (2-3), and the Cardinals wrapped up a 6-3 homestand with three 2-1 series wins and have won six consecutive series overall.
Molina led off the eighth by lining an 0-1 breaking ball from Strickland into the left field stands for his fourth homer of the year. Both pitches from Strickland, a power pitcher, were sliders, and Molina said, "I was surprised he didn't come with the fastball."
Brandon Crawford and Tomlinson had two hits and an RBI apiece for the Giants, who missed a chance to pull one game behind the Dodgers.
Piscotty's second career homer put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 in the third, two innings after center fielder Juan Perez scaled the wall to rob him of a long ball in one of the top defensive plays of the season at Busch Stadium.
The Giants' Matt Cain ended a run of four poor starts, allowing two runs in six innings, and contributed a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Garcia gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings.
The Cardinals manufactured the tying run in the seventh on two hits, one of them an unintentional swinging bunt by Brandon Moss, a fielder's choice RBI and a sacrifice bunt. Rookie Tommy Pham's headfirst slide dislodged the ball from catcher Andrew Susac on Matt Carpenter's grounder to second.
Crawford has nine extra-base hits during a career-high 13-game hitting streak. ... Piscotty leads St. Louis with a .333 batting average since making his major league debut July 21. ... Molina broke a tie with the Giants' Buster Posey for ninth among active catchers in homers.
Giants: OF Angel Pagan (knee) is expected to be activated off the DL on time Aug. 25.
Cardinals: Jason Heyward (hamstring) missed his second straight start but grounded out as a pinch-hitter to end the eighth. 1B Matt Adams (quad) is running near full speed.
Giants: Jake Peavy (3-5, 4.18) is 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in eight career starts against Pittsburgh.
Cardinals: St. Louis has a day off before beginning a 10-game trip to San Diego, Arizona and San Francisco. John Lackey (10-7, 2.87) will be seeking his 13th consecutive quality start Friday against the Padres.