Cards, Brewers battle for first place in Milwaukee

( - The St. Louis Cardinals have not been alone in first place the entire season. They will have an opportunity to head into the All- Star break atop the NL Central by completing a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park.

St. Louis was 6 1/2 games out of first place at the start of this month, but a combination of clutch victories and Milwaukee's slump has given the Cardinals a tie for the division lead.

The Cardinals have won five of their last six games, while the Brewers are on a seven-game skid. They haven't lost more games in a row since a nine-game slide from May 10-19, 2010.

Carlos Martinez takes the mound today for the Cardinals, who are 5-0 in his five starts this season. He has seven career relief appearances versus Milwaukee, including two this year. He has yet to give up a run against the Brewers over 9 2/3 innings.

Today will mark Martinez's 36th appearance of 2014, but just his sixth start. On Tuesday, he lasted six innings and surrendered eight hits and four runs in a no-decision versus the Pirates, a game the Cardinals won 5-4 on a Kolten Wong walk-off homer.

Wily Peralta counters for the Brewers. He last started on Tuesday versus the Phillies and suffered the loss after being shelled for eight hits and a career-high nine runs over 4 1/3 innings. That broke the right-hander's career-high five decision winning streak.

Peralta is 2-3 with a 6.26 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals. Peralta earned a 5-1 win in his only start versus St. Louis this season on April 16 at Miller Park.

Yesterday, Adam Wainwright won his 12th game of the season as the Cardinals pounded the reeling Brewers, 10-2. Wainwright (12-4) surrendered two runs on five hits and struck out five over seven innings for the Cardinals, who have won eight of their last 11 games.

"I did an interview a week ago talking about was it time to start looking at why the season was such a disappointment? My quote was, in a week from now we could be doing a completely different kind of interview," Wainwright said of the Cardinals being tied for first in the division.

Tony Cruz had two hits and three RBI, Jhonny Peralta posted two hits, two RBI and scored a pair of runs, Matt Carpenter recorded two hits, an RBI and scored two runs and Kolten Wong smacked a two-run homer in the triumph.

Jimmy Nelson (1-1) allowed eight runs -- six earned -- on eight hits and two walks over 4 1/3 frames for Milwaukee, which has dropped 11 of its past 12 tilts.

"I just wasn't finishing my pitches very well ... I just made too many mistakes," Nelson said.

St. Louis won 14 of 19 versus the Brewers last season, winning eight of 10 in Milwaukee. The Cardinals hold an 8-6 edge this year.