ST. LOUIS (AP) — Even with Albert Pujols back in the lineup the St. Louis Cardinals were on the ropes after just 12 pitches.
At least they made the Cincinnati Reds work.
Pinch-hitter Ramon Hernandez doubled in the go-ahead run in the 13th inning as Cincinnati survived blowing an eight-run lead and beat the resurgent Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
"We're down 8-0, it's hard to come back from that in Little League, let alone the big leagues," said Daniel Descalso, who matched his career high with four hits and had two RBIs. "We did a good job of hanging in there. You can't ask anymore than that."
Chris Heisey, Jay Bruce, Fred Lewis and Scott Rolen homered for the Reds, who led 8-0 in the fifth but managed only three hits over the next seven innings. Bruce drew a leadoff walk and Drew Stubbs singled with one out ahead of the hit by Hernandez, the last regular on the Cincinnati bench, off Raul Valdes (0-1).
Matt Holliday homered for the third time in two games and Pujols had an RBI single in a five-run seventh for the Cardinals. Pujols was 1 for 6 in his first game since returning a month ahead of the timetable from a broken left wrist.
"It's good to be back. Pretty excited with the way I swung the bat," Pujols said. "The worst swing that I took tonight, I got a base hit and an RBI.
"I did everything I wanted to do to test my wrist."
Jon Jay homered leading off the ninth off Francisco Cordero to force extra innings, only the third blown save in 20 chances for the Reds closer.
"Leading off, I was just trying to get on base, start a rally," Jay said. "He left one up and I was able to put a good swing on it. I'm just trying to get a base hit up the middle, the same thing I always do."
Descalso started at third base, moved to second on a double-switch in the 11th and back to third in the 13th. Manager Tony La Russa used all his regular players and had only Lance Lynn remaining in the bullpen.
The Cardinals were mulling recalling a pitcher from Triple-A Memphis, but their top affiliate played a 13-inning game Wednesday.
Jose Arredondo (1-3) allowed two hits and struck out two in two innings for the Reds, who had lost four of five. Aroldis Chapman allowed a hit before finishing for his first career save and hit 100 mph on the scoreboard radar on a called third strike to Jay that ended it.
Heisey's leadoff home run sparked a reconfigured lineup that produced five runs after the first five hitters against Jake Westbrook, who barely made it out of the first one start after throwing seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay. Westbrook was charged with seven runs in 4 1-3 innings.
"I put us in a huge hole," Westbrook said. "I kind of told myself after that first inning to kind of try to be my own long guy and try to get as deep as I can and not give up any more.
"They definitely hurt us, hurt me."
Bronson Arroyo faced the minimum through five innings, allowing only Descalso's borderline infield single in the third before fading. Descalso barely beat the pitcher to the bag after first baseman Joey Votto's high, looping throw, and official scorer Gary Mueller upheld the call not long before Tony Cruz doubled to open the sixth for St. Louis' second hit.
NOTES: Westbrook had no strikeouts for the second time this season, the other time was June 12 at Milwaukee when he gave up four runs in five innings. He had been 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 10 previous night starts this season. ... Cardinals reliever Brandon Dickson singled off Arroyo in the seventh on the first pitch he faced in the majors. ... Jonny Gomes is 0 for 13 as a pinch-hitter after striking out in the 11th. ... Cordero had converted eight straight save chances and allowed one earned run in his previous 13 innings. .. Arroyo has allowed five or more earned runs eight times this season. ... Chapman has five scoreless outings in six appearances since coming off the DL from a shoulder injury June 24. ... Holliday has homered in consecutive games for the first time since July 20-21, 2010 against the Phillies.