The Milwaukee Brewers are rolling and padding their lead atop the National League Central standings in the process.
The Brewers aim for their seventh straight win tonight in the finale of a three-game series against the rival St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They made it six wins in a row and improved to 5-0 on a six-game road trip with Wednesday's 5-1 win behind a strong performance from starter Randy Wolf. Wolf held the Cardinals to a run and five hits in eight innings and Francisco Rodriguez preserved the victory with a scoreless ninth.
"He got a lot stronger as the game went along," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Wolf. "He threw the fastball in and out of the zone, threw some great changeups, nice breaking balls. It was hard to figure out what to do in the ninth, he was pitching so well."
Corey Hart and Prince Fielder each drove in two runs for Milwaukee, which is five games ahead of the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Milwaukee leads the season series with St. Louis, 8-3, and has won 13 of its last 14 games. It will head home after today's game for a seven-game residency versus the Pirates and Dodgers at Miller Park.
Milwaukee announced that starting pitcher Chris Narveson was placed on the 15- day disabled list with a lacerated left thumb that needed eight stitches to close. Narveson cut the thumb while fixing his glove and was scheduled to start Friday's series opener against Pittsburgh. In a corresponding move, the club purchased the contract of pitcher Frankie De La Cruz from Triple-A Nashville. De La Cruz is 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 25 appearances with Nashville.
Taking the mound for the Brew Crew tonight will be Yovani Gallardo. He has won two straight and five of his last eight starts, and threw eight innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 victory at Houston last Friday. The effort lifted his record to 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 24 starts. Gallardo can match his career- high of 14 wins set last season with a victory tonight.
The right-hander posted his first win over St. Louis in a 4-0 victory on May 7 at Busch Stadium, where he delivered eight shutout innings and allowed just one hit with six strikeouts and four walks. Gallardo is 1-4 with a 4.66 ERA in eight career starts against the Cardinals.
St. Louis looks to salvage the finale of this set and has dropped two in a row since a four-game winning streak. Albert Pujols knocked in the lone run last night for the Cardinals, who lost 5-3 in 10 innings on Tuesday.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook gave up six hits and three runs over eight innings to take the loss.
"He never got in trouble at all," Pujols said of Westbrook. "He was comfortable, cruising all night. We only got a few baserunners here and there. That was it. He was comfortable and he made some good pitches."
Slugging outfielder Matt Holliday was scratched from the lineup because of lower back discomfort and could play Thursday. He is hitting .370 with a .739 slugging percentage since July 27. Meanwhile, right-hander Lance Lynn landed on the DL due to a strained left oblique muscle and catcher Yadier Molina returned from a five-game suspension for making contact with an umpire. He went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
The Cardinals will also host Colorado for three games on this brief homestand and hope veteran ace Chris Carpenter can get the ballclub back on track when he takes the hill tonight. Carpenter is trying to even his 7-8 record over 24 starts and has won six of his last seven decisions, including Saturday's 2-1 win at Florida in which he fired 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball with seven K's.
St. Louis is 7-2 in the right-hander's last nine starts. Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, lost at Milwaukee on August 1 in a 6-2 decision and was reached for five runs and seven hits in five innings. He is 4-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 13 career starts against the Brewers.
Milwaukee is 8-3 against St. Louis this season and owns a 21-11 mark in the past 32 games at Busch Stadium.