The St. Louis Cardinals have quickly made up ground in the NL wild-card race this weekend.
While it has been overshadowed somewhat by Cincinnati's remarkable run over the last month, St. Louis (58-49) has quietly won 11 of 15, including four of its last five.
The Cardinals have outscored the Brewers 15-4 in the first two games of this series. Adam Wainwright pitched a five-hitter in Saturday's 6-1 win, while Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay homered and Yadier Molina - playing with a sprained thumb - hit a two-run single to cap a four-run third inning.
St. Louis was 4 1/2 games back of Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot before Friday's games, but has made up two games so far this weekend with the Pirates dropping their first two against the Reds.
"We're going to continue to go out there and try to win our game and execute at the plate and execute at the mound," Wainwright told the Cardinals' official website. "Those other guys, if they want to come back to us, that's great. But we'll just try to keep winning and we'll see what happens."
St. Louis continues to play well at home, having won five straight and 14 of 17 there. The Cardinals have scored six runs or more in six of their last eight at Busch Stadium.
They haven't swept a three-game home series against the Brewers since March 31-April 3, 2003, but Milwaukee (48-58) has dropped eight straight on the road - its longest losing streak away from Miller Park since a nine-game skid in May 2008. The Brewers have given up six runs or more in each of their last five road games.
If that trend continues, it should be plenty of support for Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA), who has allowed more than three runs in only one of his 10 home starts this year. He's 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last four outings in St. Louis.
The right-hander had a seven-game overall streak of allowing two runs or fewer end Tuesday, when he surrendered five runs in six innings of an 11-6 win at Colorado.
"I think Kyle pitched better than the numbers said," said outfielder Matt Holliday , who is batting .408 over his last 42 games. "But he's pitched great all season. We were finally able to give him a little bit of a cushion and get him a win."
Lohse has won his last two starts against the Brewers, giving up three runs and two homers in six innings of a 7-3 home victory April 28.
Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez has missed the last two games with a sore wrist, and it's uncertain if he'll be back in the lineup Sunday. He is 9 for 20 with two homers and three doubles against Lohse.
The Brewers will hand the ball to Marco Estrada , who remains winless in 12 starts this season. Estrada (0-4, 4.34) was in line for a victory when he departed Monday after giving up three runs - two earned - in seven innings against Houston, but the bullpen blew the lead in a game the Brewers eventually won 8-7.
The right-hander started opposite Lohse in April, giving up five runs and two homers in six innings and taking the loss.
Molina is 5 for 7 with a home run against Estrada.
|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|
|August 03, 2012||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|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|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Without much fanfare, Kyle Lohse is having a sensational season.
The right-hander pitched six spotless innings to earn his 12th win and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Sunday night for a three-game sweep.
Lohse (12-2) allowed four hits and threw 100 pitches while winning his sixth consecutive decision. He struck out six, walked three and lowered his ERA to 2.79.
"I have an idea of what I'm trying to do out there and I'm just going out and executing the game plan," Lohse said. "It's fun out there to throw strikes and let the defense do its work."
Daniel Descalso had a season-high three hits for the Cardinals, who have won five of six and 12 of 16. It was their first three-game sweep at home against the Brewers since March 31 to April 3, 2003.
Milwaukee has lost its last nine road games.
Lohse has recorded quality starts in 11 of his last 12 games. He has emerged as the ERA leader on a talented staff that includes Adam Wainwright , Jake Westbrook and All-Star Lance Lynn .
At times, Lohse's efforts have gone unnoticed, but he doesn't mind flying under the radar. He is not big on publicity.
"I don't play this game for that stuff," he said. "I like the fact that my teammates and my manager appreciate what I am doing."
Lohse has gone at least six innings in his last 12 starts and this time he got plenty of help from his bullpen.
Edward Mujica , Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte shut out the Brewers on two hits over the final three innings. Motte earned his 24th save in 28 chances.
"It's a nice feeling to know that if we get to the seventh with the lead, it's going to be held," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals wore 1982 powder blue replica uniforms to mark the 30th anniversary of their World Series win over Milwaukee. Back then, the Brewers were in the American League.
St. Louis has won 14 of the last 19 regular-season games between the teams. The Cardinals also beat Milwaukee in last year's NL championship series.
Descalso drove in Jon Jay with a two-strike triple off Marco Estrada (0-5) in the second inning following a one-out walk. Allen Craig pushed the lead to 2-0 with a run-scoring double in the seventh. Craig has 56 RBIs in his last 67 games.
David Freese , who had two hits, brought in Carlos Beltran with a single in the eighth. Beltran doubled off the bag at first base.
Descalso also singled in the fifth and seventh to finish 3 for 4. He struggled earlier in the year but has six hits in his last 10 at-bats to raise his average to .250. He was hitting .197 on May 11.
"I wasn't happy with the way I was playing," Descalso said. "I expected a lot more out of myself. I've been working hard to try and turn it around and relax up there."
With the series sweep, the third-place Cardinals moved within seven games of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
"It's still a little early to be checking scoreboards and stuff," Descalso said. "But we've been playing pretty well. It's nice to come home and get three wins."
Estrada turned in one of his best performances of the season but remains winless in 13 starts. He gave up one run and seven hits over six innings.
"I made a couple of mistakes that they hit, but overall I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball," he said.
The Brewers, who have lost 12 of 16, were 2 for 22 with runners in the scoring position during the series.
Milwaukee loaded the bases in the fourth before Lohse struck out Estrada to end the threat. The Brewers put two on in the third, but Lohse got Ryan Braun to pop out.
"We had a lot of chances with Lohse," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's really good, but we needed a big hit somewhere and we're just not getting that hit."
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez went 1 for 4 in his return to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a sore left wrist.
NOTES: The Brewers had given up six or more runs in their past five road games. ... Milwaukee pitchers have a major league-best 915 strikeouts. ... St. Louis hosts San Francisco in the first of a four-game series Monday. Westbrook (10-8, 3.79 ERA) will face Matt Cain (10-4, 2.82). ... The Brewers host Cincinnati in the first of a three-game set Monday. Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87).