It wasn’t a complete game, officially, for Cardinals righthander Jake Westbrook on Friday. The 35-year-old worked only the first 6 1/3 innings of a 9-6 win over the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium.
In another sense, though, it was the most complete game of Westbrook’s career. In his primary job, Westbrook (6-4) was efficient, blanking the Padres on five hits over the first six innings before weakening on a broiling night and being replaced in a two-run seventh.

He had four assists in the field, an abnormally high total for a pitcher, including a pickoff of Chase Headley at first base.

But the paid house of 43,929 saw something it had never seen before from Westbrook — and something Westbrook never had done before in the majors.

Westbrook, a career .116 batsman who had struck out once for every two at-bats, hadn’t ever had more than one hit in any game he had pitched. He had never scored more than one run in a game, either.

On this muggy, yet magical, night Westbrook had three hits, scored two runs and drove in one as the Cardinals moved to a season-high 22 games over .500 and two games ahead of Pittsburgh in the National League Central Division race.

Cardinals All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter, enjoying his league-leading 38th multiple-hit game, had two doubles and a single and knocked in three runs. Allen Craig and Pete Kozma each had two hits and Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran both drove in two runs. Center fielder Jon Jay made a sterling catch to cut short an eighth-inning rally and twice moved over runners with sacrifice bunts. And Edward Mujica bailed out an ineffective Carlos Martinez after the Padres had scored three in the ninth for his 27th save in 29 tries.

But this was Westbrook’s night.

If one had to choose which starting pitcher would get three hits Friday, it would have been the Padres’ Jason Marquis, who had 127 hits to Westbrook’s 18 before the game.

“No question it was more apt to be him than to be me,” said Westbrook.

Westbrook said he hadn’t had an offensive game like this since high school. “I surprised myself a little bit,” said Westbrook, who doubted that former Cardinal Marquis was feeling all that good about giving up three hits to a pitcher.

“It’s not fun, especially (to) me,” said Westbrook. “It can’t be pleasant.”

San Diego manager Buddy Black, an old pitcher himself, said, “Someone comes in two for 20 (Westbrook’s season statiatics), you don’t expect him to get three hits. But that’s baseball.”

Westbrook took a while to find his sinkerball groove, getting only one ground-ball out in the first two innings before he induced three grounders in the third. Discussing the fly balls Westbrook allowed early in the game, manager Mike Matheny said, “He felt strong with a little extra time off, and that’s not necessarily a good thing for a sinkerballer.