Contreras’ go-ahead homer helps Mikolas, Cardinals beat Padres

Brendan Donovan of the Cardinals scores as Padres catcher Luis Campusano  tries to get a forceout at home plate during the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game in San Diego. (Associated Press)
Brendan Donovan of the Cardinals scores as Padres catcher Luis Campusano tries to get a forceout at home plate during the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game in San Diego. (Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO -- Willson Contreras hit a two-run homer off Yu Darvish in the sixth inning Tuesday night and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 to win the first two of a three-game series.

Miles Mikolas (1-1), who broke into the majors with San Diego in 2012, improved to 3-2 against his old squad. He allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.

Ryan Helsley worked the ninth for his first save in two chances.

The Padres held a pregame moment of silence for Larry Lucchino, their CEO and president from 1995-2001 who led the push for Petco Park. Lucchino died early Tuesday morning of congenital heart failure. He was 78.

Before the videoboard went dark, it showed a picture of Lucchino holding the 1998 National League championship trophy during a parade through downtown a few days after the Padres were swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Darvish (0-1), who is in his fourth season with San Diego, pitched efficiently until the sixth. Leading 2-1, Darvish walked Brendan Donovan with one out, struck out Paul Goldschmidt and then allowed Contreras’ homer to right, his second. Contreras also hit a two-run homer in St. Louis’ 6-2 win Monday night.

“This dude is really good,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Contreras. “And he’s competitive and he wants to kill. I’m glad he’s in our uniform.”

Said Mikolas: “When he swings the bat, it’s very special. It’s fun to hear the ball come off the bat. I think I was in the dugout secretly wishing for him to get one right there. Everyone wants him to hit a home run, but I’m sitting there like, ‘This would be a really nice time for him to hit another one.’”

The Cardinals tacked on two more in the eighth. Yuki Matsui loaded the bases without getting an out and was relieved by Wandy Peralta. Nolan Arenado then hit a dribbler down the third-base line.

Third baseman Tyler Wade’s throw home was in time, but Luis Campusano didn’t get his foot on the plate and Donovan scored on the catcher’s error. Alec Burleson followed with a sacrifice fly for a three-run lead.

Marmol highlighted the importance of Donovan running inside the third-base line to obscure Campusano’s view and rookie Victor Scott II challenging the arm of right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. while legging out a double in the third, setting up the Cardinals’ first run.

“Those little things add up over 162 games and our guys are locked in on them,” Marmol said. “There’s a lot of different ways to win a ballgame.”

Darvish was charged with three runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.

San Diego grabbed an early 2-1 lead. Luis Campusano hit an RBI single in the second, and Wade added a run-scoring double in the fourth.

Scott doubled leading off the third and scored on Masyn Winn’s sacrifice fly.

Cardinals LHP Zack Thompson (0-1, 8.44 ERA) and Padres RHP Joe Musgrove (0-1, 9.72) are scheduled to start today’s series finale.