Kyle Lohse and two others combined on a three-hitter to help the reeling Cardinals post a 2-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Lohse (6-1), whom the Indians had beat in seven of his last eight starts against them, threw 7 2/3 shutout innings to earn his first win in a month. Carlos Beltran hit his league-leading 17th homer in the Cardinals' fourth win in six games following a five-game slide.
"He was just really locating everything," Cards manager Mike Matheny said of Lohse. "He's still taking that role that we gave him opening day. He leads the staff and tries to prove a point. He tries to take charge, and it becomes contagious."
Jason Motte earned his 11th save.
St. Louis looked to be doing just fine in the wake of Albert Pujols' departure and Chris Carpenter's injury, sitting at 20-11 after Lohse's last victory, a 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks on May 9. Since then, however, the team is 11-18 and has lost its grip on first place.
Now, the Cardinals will go for the franchise's first series win over Cleveland on Sunday. St. Louis is 6-13 all-time against the Indians, losing all six series the clubs have played.
The lone bright spot for the Indians was Michael Brantley's bunt single to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest active streak in the majors. He had two of the team's three hits.
Justin Masterson (2-6) was a hard-luck loser after allowing one run in seven innings for Cleveland, which had yet to be shut out this season.
Both pitchers were cruising along early until Beltran blasted a homer off Masterson to left-center with two outs in the third. Masterson, who allowed only 11 home runs last season, has already allowed seven in 2012.
The Indians' righty has lost three consecutive starts, and the team hasn't offered him much support. For the seventh straight time with Masterson on the hill, Cleveland failed to score more than three runs.
Lohse, Marc Rzepczynski and Motte never allowed a baserunner to reach as far as third, and Rafael Furcal hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Jeremy Accardo to pad the Cardinals' lead heading into the ninth.
"Some guys hit the ball hard but that's part of the game. You have to give him credit. He pitched really well," Indians manager Manny Acta said about Lohse.
Detroit is the only other team that has yet to be shut out this season...Brantley is two games shy of his career-best hitting streak, a 19- game stretch in 2010...Beltran had three hits...Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was scratched from the game with back spasms.