The St. Louis Cardinals will spent most of the next three weeks at home, which could help them get back into the thick of the NL playoff chase.
The Cardinals open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, going for their fourth straight victory at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis begins a seven-game homestand after a 3-3 road trip. The Cardinals, who have won nine of 13 overall, lost 8-2 to Colorado on Thursday, failing to complete a three-game sweep.
Eight games out of first place in the NL Central and four games back of Atlanta for the second wild-card spot, St. Louis (56-49) could make up ground while playing 16 of its next 19 at Busch Stadium, where it went 12-3 in July to improve to 29-21 this season.
Matt Holliday is hitting .341 at home this year and .464 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 19 games there. He had three homers and nine RBIs in the first two games against the Rockies before going 0 for 3 on Thursday.
The Cardinals could be without Lance Berkman after he re-injured his surgically repaired right knee Thursday. In 15 games since returning, he's hitting .182 with one homer and three RBIs.
"I'll have the doc take a look at it and see what he thinks," he said. "Life of a ballplayer. Some days it feels OK. Some days it doesn't."
St. Louis will try to provide some offense for Friday's starter Joe Kelly , who has performed admirably since being called up in June but hasn't received much run support.
Kelly (1-4, 2.96 ERA) hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his nine starts while filling in for the injured Jaime Garcia . The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits while striking out a season-high six over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
"That's all I can ask for. Wins and losses are out of my control," Kelly said.
St. Louis has lost five of Kelly's last six starts. He's 0-4 in that stretch despite posting six consecutive quality starts, including a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee on July 17 in which he gave up three runs - two earned - in six innings.
He'll face a Brewers team that may have some renewed confidence after taking advantage of the majors' worst club this week.
Milwaukee (48-56) is coming off a three-game sweep of Houston, outscoring the Astros 31-12. The Brewers won 13-4 on Wednesday as Ryan Braun hit his NL-leading 29th homer and Rickie Weeks , Jonathan Lucroy and Cesar Izturis also went deep.
The defending NL Central champions are 15 1/2 games behind first-place Cincinnati and 11 1/2 out in the wild-card race.
"There's no reason to give up," Braun said. "Why are you going to give up, ever? I think until you're mathematically eliminated, you're going to continue to believe you have a chance."
The Brewers will hand the ball to Randy Wolf (3-7, 5.45), who gave up four runs on three homers in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Washington on Saturday.
The left-hander, who is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in nine appearances - eight starts - on the road, has split two outings against the Cardinals this year, allowing five runs over 11 2-3 innings.
St. Louis has a 5-4 edge in the season series, winning two of three at home in April.
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 28, 2012||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|July 26, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf cramp|
|July 24, 2012||Lance Berkman||Day-to-Day||Left game - HBP right knee|
|July 17, 2012||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left thigh|
|July 08, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Bruised left leg|
|June 06, 2012||Jaime Garcia||60-Day DL||Sprained left shoulder|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis rookie right-hander Joe Kelly learned a valuable lesson Friday night.
He battled back from a shaky beginning to halt a three-start losing streak as the St. Louis Cardinals rolled to a 9-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers .
St. Louis has won three of its last four while Milwaukee had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Kelly (2-4) allowed three earned runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings. The Brewers scored three runs in the second inning - two coming on a bases-loaded single by Milwaukee pitcher Randy Wolf (3-8).
"I went to the dugout and said, `It might be one of those nights,"' Kelly said. "I was irritated."
But Kelly channeled his anger and held the Brewers scoreless over the next 3 2-3 innings and began to pick up steam as the game went along. He also came alive at the plate breaking a 3-3 tie in the fourth inning with a run-scoring single for his second RBI of the season.
Kelly picked up the second win of his career. His last triumph was an 11-4 victory at Kansas City on June 22. Kelly entered Friday's game with seven straight quality starts but took the loss in his last three games.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Kelly showed the courage of a veteran by bouncing back from the most difficult start of his career. Kelly gave up hits to five of the first 10 batters he faced and didn't record his first swinging strike until his 37th pitch of the night.
But he was able to keep his team in the game until the offense got rolling.
"This was a great lesson for him," Matheny said. "He learned how to pitch when he didn't have his best stuff. He did a nice job of getting himself out of trouble."
The Brewers simply couldn't put the finishing touches on the early blitz.
"We had him right where we wanted him more than once," first baseman Corey Hart said. "You're always one hit away. But he battled and got out of it."
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina was pleased with the way Kelly reacted to the early adversity.
"In the first couple of innings, he was everywhere with his fastball," Molina said. "After the third, he settled down and found his breaking ball."
Kelly's first-pitch RBI single to left off Wolf broke a 3-3 tie and capped a four-run outburst in the fourth inning.
St. Louis managed just two hits over the first three innings but scored four runs on five hits in the fourth. David Freese ripped a two-run single to bring his team within 3-2. Daniel Descalso , who added an RBI single in the eighth, followed with a run-scoring double to tie the game. Shane Robinson walked before Kelly singled for his second RBI of the season.
Milwaukee scored three runs in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Wolf drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single. Norichika Aoki followed with a run-scoring hit.
Wolf gave up five earned runs in 5 1-3 innings. He allowed just two hits through the first three innings before giving up five hits in the four-run fourth.
"I felt good those first three innings," Wolf said. "Even the fifth inning I felt all right. But every inning counts. I've got to do a better job of stopping things when they start to unravel."
St. Louis, which scored nine straight runs, capitalized on two errors in the sixth to push the lead to 6-3. Yadier Molina , who singled to start the inning, stole third and came around to score when catcher Martin Maldonado threw wildly to third. Corey Hart , who had not made in error in his first 51 starts at first base, booted a grounder by Rafael Furcal to allow Robinson to score.
Relievers Barret Browning , Edward Mujica , Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski followed Kelly and kept the Brewers scoreless.
Molina had three hits to push his average to .315. He stole two bases, giving him a career-high 10 for the season.
Ryan Braun , who leads the NL with 29 homers, had three hits including two doubles.
The Brewers tied a season-high with four errors for the second straight game. Maldonado had three.
NOTES: St. Louis OF Matt Holliday , who had two hits, has reached by hit or walk in the last 29 games. ... Thomas James, a volunteer statistician for the Cardinals for two decades, passed away earlier in the week. The team announced before the game that his seat in the press box will remain empty the rest of the season in his honor. .... Aoki has a six-game hitting streak. ...Furcal returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with a sore lower back. ...The Brewers outscored Houston 31-12 in sweeping their previous three-game series.