ST. LOUIS --A couple of times, Johnny Cueto said it just was not his day. Try telling that to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The right-hander worked around a season-worst five walks and back soreness to post his ninth win, tying for the major league lead, in the San Francisco Giants' 5-1 victory on Friday night.
"That's a nice job against this club," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I felt he really pitched well."
The last two starts, both lasting six innings coming off consecutive complete games, Cueto's back has bothered him a bit. Bochy thought the pitcher felt it grab once when he stepped off the mound, and Cueto will get two extra days' rest before his next outing because of a couple days off for the team.
The right-hander said through an interpreter he felt "100 percent healthy," but added "I like what they're doing. If it was up to me I would pitch every five days but I'll go with what the manager decides."
Cueto (9-1) allowed a run and four hits in six innings with one strikeout. He hadn't walked more than two in any of his first 11 starts for his new team.
Cueto is among four nine-game winners, joining Stephen Strasburg, Jake Arrieta and Chris Sale. Six of Cueto's victories have come on the road.
Five Giants relievers combined to give up just one hit and the lineup made the most out of eight singles.
Adam Wainwright (5-4) allowed two runs in seven innings. The Cardinals were held to one run for the second straight game.
"That's one of the better pitchers in the league right now," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We had aa couple opportunities but not much."
The Giants bunched three straight two-strike hits in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead, with RBIs by Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.
"Hate to give up the lead," Wainwright said. "But they're going to beat you with singles sometimes."
Denard Span had a two-run single and Matt Duffy squeezed home a run in a three-run ninth, capitalizing on three straight walks to open the inning by Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, working for just the fifth time in 16 days.
The NL West leaders are a major league-best 18-4 since May 11 and have not allowed an earned run three of the last four games.
"I think every team will tell you that the pitching sets the tone, especially the starters," Bochy said.
The Cardinals have lost four of five at home and are 13-16 overall at Busch Stadium.
Cueto is 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA his last six starts, working at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in each of them. He'd entered 2-4 with a 5.71 ERA in 10 previous starts in St. Louis.
Wainwright had been 5-0 in his previous seven starts.
Stephen Piscotty had an RBI single in the third but the Cardinals left the bases loaded when Randal Grichuk tapped out, with Cueto making a nice play and throw just in time.