Brewers try to get closer to NL Central title in St. Louis

The Brewers have a shot at lowering their magic number to long struggles against the Cardinals.

Milwaukee looks to take another big step towards the division crown this evening in the continuation of a three-game series with second-place St. Louis.

The Brewers' magic number to clinch their first division title of any kind since winning the AL East in 1982 was lowered to 11 following last night's 4-1 defeat of the Cardinals. Ryan Braun and Nyjer Morgan both hit home runs to back Randy Wolf's eight innings of one-run ball.

"Every game we play against anybody right now is big, but particularly against the team that's chasing us," Braun said.

Corey Hart extended his hitting streak to 17 consecutive games with an RBI hit in the second inning as the Brewers won their fourth straight game since getting swept by the Cardinals to begin last week and avoided a fifth consecutive defeat in this series.

Jake Westbrook struck out a season-high nine batters, but still took the loss for the Cardinals after pitching six innings. St. Louis has lost three of four since its sweep of Milwaukee and is also 8 1/2 contests behind the NL Wild Card race.

"Our whole mindset before we went to Milwaukee was we have to win ball games," Westbrook said. "Losing this one, we still have to come out tomorrow and win the next game. Hopefully, we can do everything we can to put pressure on them."

St. Louis has been able to do that against Gallardo his whole career.

After giving up three earned runs over three outings, the right-hander was hammered by St. Louis on Thursday for eight runs on nine hits over a mere 4 2/3 innings. Though he struck out eight, he also served up a career-high four homers, including two to Albert Pujols. Rafael Furcal and Matt Holliday also took Gallardo deep to drop him to 15-9 with a 3.68 earned run average this season.

Pujols has been a major thorn in Gallardo's 25-year-old side, going 12-for-25 (.480) against him in his career with four homers and 11 RBI. He is part of the reason Gallardo is just 1-6 with a 5.79 ERA in his career versus St. Louis.

The Cardinals hope that eight days' of rest can recharge Kyle Lohse, who has won four of five past five decisions and shook off a brutal loss to the Dodgers by besting the Pirates on Aug. 28.

Lohse allowed four runs -- two earned -- on six hits over five innings, moving to 12-8 with a 3.72 ERA and picking up his 100th career victory.

The 32-year-old righty is 3-8 with a 5.10 ERA in his career versus Milwaukee, including a pair of losses this season. He suffered a tough-luck loss to the Brewers when he faced them at home on May 7, giving up a run over eight innings of a 4-0 defeat.