ST. LOUIS(AP) A late slump has assured the St. Louis Cardinals that they'll open the postseason on the road. Still to be decided
will get the final spot in the NL Central champions' playoff rotation.
The Cardinals lost for the fifth time in six games since clinching the division, 5-4 to
Lohse (6-10) worked six innings and allowed five runs, but only two earned.
Tony La Russa
will pick between Lohse and Smoltz for the fourth starting spot - the manager wouldn't tip his hand while judging that Lohse
did ''mostly good things.''
''Obviously I want to start, but that's not up to me,'' Lohse said. ''I think Smoltzie and I are both just sitting there going,
'Just let us know what we're doing.'''
The Cardinals have dropped to the third playoff seed ahead of only the wild-card winner.
''We're definitely not firing on all cylinders,'' La Russa said. ''If it's true that we lost a little focus or lost an edge,
that's not our style. The fact is we've gotten beat and at some places it has not been pretty, but we'll see if we can pretty
A late-season offensive splurge enabled Braun to reach 200 hits for the first time with one game to spare. He hit a two-run
homer in the first inning and added an infield hit.
Braun is batting .432 (16 for 37) during an eight-game hitting streak with three homers and 10 RBIs.
''It wasn't something I was thinking about at all, it wasn't on my radar,'' Braun said. ''I'm swinging the bat well, and it's
always nice to finish the season strong individually and as a team.''
made two of the Cardinals' three errors, which matched a season high. His wild throw on
's two-out, bases-loaded grounder allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score in the sixth as the ball sailed over the heads
of first baseman
and Lohse when both scurried to cover the bag.
Lohse was afraid somebody was going to get hurt and La Russa would have preferred Lugo go to second for a force.
''I tried to get to the ball but there wasn't any way I could have reached it without colliding with Albert,'' Lohse said.
''I don't see anything good coming out of it, either one of us.''
Braun leads the NL with 201 hits and is the fourth Brewer to top 200, joining
and Robin Young. Cooper did it three times and Molitor twice. With one more steal in Sunday's finale, Braun will become the
second Brewer to hit 30 homers and steal 20 bases.
(4-10) won his first game as a starter in six attempts, allowing four runs in five innings. He had been 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA
as a starter, and was filling in for
''Honestly, I'm just glad I could get five innings and let the game be close when I left,'' Villanueva said.
worked the ninth for his 37th save in 40 chances.
Pujols tied the major league single-season record with his 184th assist at first base on a flip to reliever
that beat pinch-hitter
in the eighth. He matched the mark set by Boston's
doubled twice while going 3 for 3 with an RBI, and kept himself alive in a rundown long enough to allow Pujols to get to second
on a groundball in fifth.
had a two-run single in the first.
The Brewers had two hits and two walks against St. Louis closer
but didn't score, after
was caught stealing on Braun's strikeout and
was out at the plate on
's third hit of the day.
NOTES: The Cardinals are 14-15 since Sept. 1. ...
struck out all three times against Villanueva, leaving two on in the first and the bases loaded in the fifth. He's 1 for 14
with eight strikeouts against the right-hander. ... Brewers pitcher
has allowed 39 homers, by far the major league high. He allowed six runs in six innings Friday in the Brewers' comeback 12-6
victory, but no long balls. ... Braun leads the NL with 63 multihit games.