David Freese hit a grand slam as part of a five-run first inning, while Matt Holliday's RBI single in the fourth proved to be the difference as the St. Louis Cardinals edged the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6, in the opener of a three-game set at Busch Stadium.
Holliday scored a run and added another RBI single and Jon Jay drove in one run for the Cardinals, winners in four of their last five. Jaime Garcia (5-2) picked up the win, despite allowing six runs on six hits over 5 1/3 frames.
Aramis Ramirez accounted for all of Milwaukee's offense on a pair of three-run homers. Wily Peralta (3-4) gave up all seven runs -- six earned -- on 11 hits and struck out six over five innings for the Brewers, who have dropped four straight and are a mere 8-22 over their last 30 games versus St. Louis.
"Right now, we're going through a tough time," Ramirez said. "We just have to keep playing."
Trailing 7-3 in the sixth, Ramirez single-handedly kept the Brewers alive with his second three-run shot. Norichika Aoki doubled to right to open up the frame and Jean Segura's single moved Aoki to third. Garcia struck out Ryan Braun before Ramirez smacked the first pitch he saw over the center-field wall to make it 7-6.
The rest of the Brewers, however, couldn't come through versus the Cardinals' remaining relievers. Edward Mujica earned the save in the ninth, his 12th in as many tries this season.
Holliday poked a single up the middle early in the first to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead, though the inning was far from over. Allen Craig and Yadier Molina followed with a walk and single, respectively, but Jay struck out. Freese came up and delivered a grand slam to dead-center field -- his first homer of the season -- to expand the home team's edge to 5-0.
"Just a changeup, it was supposed to be down and away," Peralta said. "I hung it right down the middle of the plate (and) up."
In the third, Jay made up for his earlier strike out with an RBI single, scoring Craig to make it 6-0 St. Louis.
The Brewers finally broke through versus Garcia in the fourth and cut their deficit in half. Braun drew a walk to put runners on first and second with one down and Ramirez followed with a homer to left, putting the visitors on the board to make it 6-3.
In the home half of the inning, Matt Carpenter doubled to left with one down and advanced to third on Braun's fielding error. Peralta struck out Carlos Beltran, but Holliday poked a single to right, scoring Carpenter to increase the hosts' lead to 7-3. The run and the error would turn out to be vital in the victory.
"It just feels good to help the team," Added Freese. "You want to join the fun."
St. Louis has won seven of eight games against Milwaukee this season ... The Cardinals, who have won 13 of their last 16 overall, swept the Brewers earlier this year in a four-game set at Milwaukee from May 2-5 ... Craig and Carpenter each had three hits and scored twice for the Cardinals.