PHOENIX (AP) - Jaime Garcia knew when he came to the plate to bat in the first inning that it looked like another good night for the St. Louis Cardinals.
And it was.
The Cardinals batted around in a four-run first and went on to rout the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-1 on Tuesday night.
''It's a good feeling when you have to get up to hit in the first inning,'' Garcia said. ''It means something good is happening.''
Tommy Pham had his second career three-hit game and Garcia pitched six strong innings for the Cardinals.
Three days after his first three-hit game, Pham singled twice and got his second career triple. He scored three times.
Six players had RBIs for the Cardinals, two apiece for Jhonny Peralta, Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina. The Cardinals' Peter Bourjos' got his first career pinch-hit home run.
Garcia (6-4) allowed a run and four hits, striking out six and walking one. His ERA dropped to 1.77.
The Cardinals earned their MLB-best 80th victory and are 35 games above .500.
''We keep track of that but we're right in the middle of a dogfight in our division,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ''I think it's good for us to be honest with you, just keep pressing and make sure we're not backing off. There's no time for that.''
The Cardinals lengthened their lead to 4 1-2 games over second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
''We just keep playing a good game every single day and demand that it should look a certain way,'' Matheny said. ''I think that's something these guys do. They have a responsibility to themselves, this organization, our fan base. I think they're representing themselves well.''
Robbie Ray (3-10) lasted three innings plus two batters. He allowed six runs and five hits. Ray walked five, hit a batter and struck out one.
''They jumped on him,'' Arizona manager Chip Hale said. ''They got the runs obviously. That is easy to see but we made some mistakes again behind him, with the defense. We let them get some extra bases, the throws from the outfield. It happened a couple of times. You just can't do that with a team like this.''
With Ray having control issues, the Cardinals jumped on the young left-hander for four runs in the first.
Matt Carpenter started it with a leadoff walk. Heyward had a two-run single and Molina an RBI double. Kolten Wong snapped an 0-for-8 skid with an RBI single. Molina, not the fastest base runner to say the least, stole third in the inning.
Ray faced two batters in the fourth without getting an out. He hit Carpenter with a pitch and gave up a single to Pham. The runners scored on sacrifice flies by Peralta and Molina.
Bourjos' homer to left came on the first pitch he saw from Randall Delgado in the seventh inning.
The Diamondbacks lost their second straight to the Cardinals after returning home one game above .500 following a four-game sweep of Cincinnati. Arizona fell 6 1-2 games behind the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reliever Evan Marshall visited Chase Field for the first time since he was struck in the head by a line drive while pitching for the Diamondbacks' Triple-A Reno affiliate in El Paso three weeks ago. Marshall's jaw was fractured and he had bleeding in his brain. Speaking publicly for the first time, Marshall said he had only minutes to live and wouldn't have survived had doctors not acted so quickly. His wife Ani called it a ''terrifying'' experience but says she can't wait to see her husband back on the mound.
Cardinals: Carpenter was hit in the elbow by a pitch in the fourth and left the game in the seventh. However, Matheny said Carpenter was not hurt.
Diamondbacks: RHP Archie Bradley (shoulder) was activated from the 15-day DL and assigned him to Reno.
Cardinals: RHP John Lackey (8-8, 2.99 ERA) makes his team-leading 26th start of the season as the Cardinals try to clinch the four-game series.
Diamondbacks: LHP Patrick Corbin (3-3, 4.30) makes his 10th start since coming back from Tommy John surgery.