ST. LOUIS -- The Padres rallied for four runs in their final two frames, but it was too little, too late as the Cardinals' nine runs proved too steep a deficit.
The San Diego offense sputtered for much of the Padres' 9-6 loss to the Cardinals in the second half opener, which was played in front of 43,929 at Busch Stadium.
The game appeared to be headed toward a blowout but the Padres rallied for six runs in the final three frames, forcing the Cardinals' All-Star closer Edward Mujica into the game. Mujica retired Jedd Gyorko and struck out Will Venable, extinguishing any comeback hopes.
"Guys just didn't quit," Chase Headley said. "If we're down, we're going to keep playing until there's 27 outs against us. No surprise there."
Jason Marquis stalled the National League's top team for two scoreless innings, but he gave up six runs on eight hits over his last 3 1/3 frames in his ninth career start against his former team.
Marquis, who was unavailable postgame while getting worked on in the training room, extended his Major League-high walk total to 68 and didn't strike out any St. Louis batters.
"Jason battled," manager Bud Black said. "He was in a little duel with [Cardinals starter Jake] Westbrook through the first five innings. … We didn't get him any run support early."
The Padres managed eight hits against Westbrook, but they only came away with two runs to show for it. All-Star shortstop Everth Cabrera recorded his sixth multi-RBI game of the year, as he drove home the Padres first runs with a bases-loaded two-run single in the seventh on Westbrook's last pitch of the night. But St. Louis reliever Seth Maness induced a double play to prevent the rally.
"I thought early on we had some decent swings, just we hit the ball to some guys," Headley said. "[Westbrook] just did what he usually does -- throws that sinker, relies on it. That's a really good pitch for him."
Westbrook limited the Padres for 6 1/3 innings, and the right-hander's contributions weren't just from the mound. He also went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles against Marquis, with two runs and an RBI.
"It was the first time I had run the bases that much since high school," Westbrook said. "It was a good win for us. I surprised myself a little bit with how well I did at the plate. The biggest thing was we won the game, and it was a fun game to be a part of."
The Cardinals struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the third. They didn't stop there, pushing eight more runs across, including a pair of three-run innings in the sixth and seventh.
The Padres squandered an early opportunity to at least tie the game, if not take the lead, in the fourth, when Nick Hundley grounded into a double play, stranding two San Diego runners when the Cardinals had just a 1-0 lead. Gyorko and Venable had reached on back-to-back singles, and Westbrook walked Alexi Amarista on the next at-bat, loading the bases for Hundley before Westbrook forced the double play.
"Any double play is hard to swallow," Black said. "That's not what we're looking for."
The opportunities were there for San Diego, which nearly matched the Cardinals in hits, with 13 to St. Louis' 14, but the runs just didn't follow until late.
"It was just one of those nights where he made good pitches to get us to hit it at guys and get some big outs," Venable said about Westbrook.
Black turned to Sean O'Sullivan in the seventh, as the right-hander made his first relief appearance since April 6, 2011 with the White Sox.
"He had six days off; he was fresh, ready to go," Black said. "We needed two innings. He's a guy that can give us length. That's part of his game."
O'Sullivan made his first start of the season last Friday, surrendering two earned runs on six hits and three walks. Black said O'Sullivan will remain in the bullpen in the immediate future, while his replacement in the rotation Tuesday is still unannounced. With the loss, San Diego has now dropped 19 of its last 23 games. The Padres have lost 10 straight on the road, and Friday's loss was the beginning of a 10-day, 10-game stretch away from Petco Park.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.