Cardinals hand Kelly ball, go for sweep of Brewers

Joe Kelly tries to win his sixth straight start on Thursday when the St. Louis Cardinals attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.

Kelly has been tremendous for the Cardinals since moving to the rotation July 6, going 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 11 outings. He has given up one run or less in eight of those outings and the Cardinals are 10-1 in those games.

The 25-year-old right-hander beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, holding them to a run and eight hits in six innings.

"He pitched himself out of trouble a couple of times," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the Pittsburgh game. "I thought he did a real nice job. He's earned that opportunity to work himself through it and he continues to get big outs when he needs to."

St. Louis won its fifth straight game on Wednesday, as Matt Adams' two-run homer highlighted a four-run eighth inning in the Cardinals' 5-1 win. Matt Holliday finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Daniel Descalso drove in a run for the Cardinals, who maintained a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates atop the NL Central standings.

Trevor Rosenthal (2-3) earned the win with a scoreless eighth inning. Starter Lance Lynn allowed one unearned run on five hits while fanning 10 over six innings.

"It was much more like what I expect Lance to be tonight. He controlled the game and didn't allow things to get out of hand. He focused, got back on the mound and made good pitches," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Marco Estrada was the second Brewers pitcher in as many nights to carry a no- hitter into the sixth inning. He allowed just one run on two hits while striking out six over 6 2/3 innings.

Getting the call for the Brewers on Thursday will be Tyler Thornburg, who is 1-1 with a 2.08. Thornburg hasn't pitched since taking the loss back on Sept. 2 to the Pirates. He gave up just two runs and six hits in that one.

Thornburg has pitched to a 1.13 ERA in his four starts, but has yet to win one, despite going six innings and allowing no more than two runs in any of those outings.

"I wouldn't say I'm more comfortable, it's just what I'm used to," Thornburg said. "Any time, for the past two to three years -- even back into college -- you've been a starter, it's just what you're used to. I'm sure if one day I'm in the bullpen for two or three years, then I'm sure I'll get comfortable with that."

St. Louis is 12-3 this season against the Brewers.