Drew's three-run homer lifts front-running D-backs

Unsung heroes: Miguel Montero drove in the go-ahead run on a sac fly in the fourth while Carlos Quentin added insurance with an RBI single.

What a relief: Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his MLB-best 44th save in 51 chances.

Hunt for October: The Padres remain outfront by two games in the NL West while the Cardinals fell two games back in the Central.

-- ESPN.com news services

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 8

PHOENIX (AP) -- Stephen Drew helped the Diamondbacks hang on and double their lead in the NL West.

Drew homered to help the Diamondbacks overcome a horrendous third inning and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 Saturday night for a two-game lead over San Diego.

"There are several guys who all read the paper and they know where we are," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "You can't help it, but I think they try not to look too far ahead. We just want to look at game to game and series to series."

Drew's three-run homer in the fourth inning helped the Diamondbacks overcome a four-run deficit after St. Louis scored seven runs in the third. The Cardinals fell two games back in the NL Central, behind Chicago and Milwaukee atop the division.

Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his major league-best 44th save in 51 chances.

Conor Jackson said the Diamondbacks are trying hard not to look at the standings.

"It's one of those cliches, but we're trying to take it one game at a time," said Jackson, who homered in the first inning. "All these games count as only one."

After back-to-back singles in the first inning by Chris Young and Eric Byrnes, Jackson homered over the left field wall off Braden Looper. It was Jackson's 13th homer.

Todd Wellemeyer (3-2) relieved Looper in the fourth after he allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

"The pitchers just had a tough night. We didn't score the last four [innings]," LaRussa said. "It was a very gutty loss, a tough loss."

Albert Pujols got St. Louis started in the third inning with a two-run triple off the glove of right fielder Jeff Salazar. An error by starting pitcher Micah Owings allowed Pujols to score before Aaron Miles hit a three-run homer. Looper singled in the seventh run.

Dana Eveland (1-0) got the final out of the fourth.

Eric Byrnes doubled in the bottom of the third, stole third and scored when the throw got away as Arizona made it 7-4. The Diamondbacks tied the game in the fourth on Drew's homer which knocked out Looper. Miguel Montero put them back on top 8-7 with a sacrifice fly in the inning followed by an RBI single from Carlos Quentin.

"I just knew to be patient and wait for a pitch I could drive," Drew said. "I had to wait."

Game notes
St. Louis C Yadier Molina was scratched from the lineup after taking a foul ball off the mask in Friday night's game. Molina is day to day. ... Cardinals INF David Eckstein was hit by pitches twice. ... Cardinals OF Chris Duncan left the game with a strained groined and is day-to-day. ... Owings failed to pitch at least three innings in a start for the second time, going 2 2-3 innings. He also went that distance May 18 at Pittsburgh.