ST. LOUIS -- Timing is everything.
Just ask Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose team emerged from a brief funk offensively by using power and patience to fuel two big innings that led to an 8-5 win Tuesday night over the St. Louis Cardinals, giving them a split of a day-night doubleheader.
"Tonight was as good an offensive game as we've had all year," he said. "It's not the biggest numbers we've had, but we needed that game."
Counsell and Milwaukee hope this win carries over to Wednesday night's matchup with St. Louis at Busch Stadium.
A four-run fourth inning that saw the Brewers (34-32) belt two homers, a double and a triple wiped out the Cardinals' 2-1 lead. And after St. Louis tied it 5-5 in the seventh with a Matt Carpenter homer, Milwaukee went into grind mode.
It worked consecutive walks against Trevor Rosenthal, then got an RBI hit from Travis Shaw to regain the lead for good. Two more runs added the insurance the Brewers needed and prevented the Cardinals (30-33) from notching a sweep that would have pulled them within a half-game of first place in the National League Central.
"They were all grinding out at-bats, making the pitchers work," Counsell said. "Give all our guys credit -- Domingo (Santana), Jesus (Aguilar), Travis, Hernan (Perez) and Manny (Pina) -- for having outstanding at-bats."
Milwaukee will try to keep things going against Mike Leake (5-5, 2.70), who led the NL in ERA before falling off a bit over his last three starts. That includes a 5-2 loss Thursday in Cincinnati.
Leake was pestered throughout his five innings, giving up 10 hits and three runs. It was the third consecutive defeat for Leake, who owns a win over the Brewers this year. In his career against Milwaukee, Leake is 5-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 14 starts.
Matt Garza (2-2, 3.83) will come off the 10-day disabled list and make the start for the Brewers. Garza hasn't pitched since June 3, when he left a 10-8 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers after four innings following a collision at first base with Aguilar that resulted in a chest contusion.
In 14 career starts against St. Louis, Garza is 5-5 with a 3.99 ERA. This will be his first start against the Cards this year; he went 1-1 in two outings last year with a 3.55 ERA.
Garza's biggest concern might be Carpenter, who is raking again now that he's back in the leadoff spot he's occupied for most of the last four years. Carpenter collected his first three-hit game of the year in Tuesday night's second game, giving him a seven-game hitting streak in which he's batting .407 with three homers and eight RBIs.
The Cardinals' chief worry might be the bullpen, which had to get the last 17 outs in the nightcap. Rosenthal and Seung Hwan Oh needed 44 pitches to get through the eighth. Rosenthal threw 25 pitches and didn't get an out.
"He's been throwing as good as anyone here in the league lately," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Rosenthal. "Take this one and throw it out and get back at it."