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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Miguel Vargas hit his first big league home run, Clayton Kershaw won his third straight start and the Los Angeles Dodgers bounced back with a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.

Will Smith and Trayce Thompson also went deep for the NL West champion Dodgers, who had dropped three of four — including an 11-0 blowout by the Cardinals on Friday night.

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols went 1 for 4, a night after becoming the fourth player to reach 700 career home runs. Nolan Arenado had a solo shot for the Cardinals but their NL Central lead dropped to 6 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which cruised to a 10-2 victory in Cincinnati.

Vargas started at first base after major league batting leader Freddie Freeman was scratched from the lineup due to illness. With Austin Barnes aboard after a base hit, Vargas hit a 93.5 mph fastball from Jordan Montgomery (8-6) into the center-field stands to extend the lead to 4-0.

The 22-year-old Vargas — the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year in 2021 — couldn’t stifle a wide grin as he rounded first base.

Kershaw (10-3) struck out seven in six innings and allowed two runs on six hits. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts since coming off the injured list. He was sidelined nearly a month due to lower back pain.

Smith got the Dodgers on the board in the first with a two-out solo shot to center. Thompson made it 2-0 in the second with a drive over the center-field wall.

Cody Bellinger laced an RBI double to left-center in the fourth inning and then scored on a single by Mookie Betts.

ARENADO’S MILESTONE

Arenado’s two-run drive to the left-field corner in the sixth gave him 30 home runs and 100 RBIs on the season. It is the seventh time since 2015 he has reached both marks.

Only three players — José Abreu, J.D. Martinez and Edwin Encarnación — have even four seasons of 30-100 over the same span.

DEEP TRACKS

Montgomery allowed a season-high three home runs and has served up six in his last five starts. The left-hander, acquired from the Yankees at the Aug. 2 trade deadline, went four innings and gave up six runs on seven hits.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Dustin May was placed on the injured list due to low back tightness. He was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts after coming back from Tommy John surgery. RHP Andre Jackson was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take May’s spot. … RHP Tony Gonsolin (right forearm strain) will pitch two innings at Oklahoma City on Tuesday and could be activated off the IL after that.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (11-10, 3.38 ERA) is 7-5 in 18 career appearances against the Dodgers but only 1-3 at Dodger Stadium.

RHP Michael Grove (0-0, 4.66 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season.

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Vargas hits 1st homer, Dodgers bounce back to beat Cards 6-2

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