Peralta goes for Brewers in opener with Cards

Young righty Wily Peralta meets the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in his career on Thursday night when they visit Miller Park for the first of four games with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cardinals enter the series with a 1 1/2-game lead on the third-place Brewers in the National League's Central Division. Pittsburgh is in second place, a half-game behind; while Cincinnati is fourth, two games back.

Peralta, who'll turn 24 next week, debuted with the Brewers in 2012 and was 2-1 in six appearances with a 2.48 earned run average.

He was beaten, 7-3, in his initial 2013 start on April 3 against Colorado, but is 2-0 with two no-decisions in four outings since, while trimming his ERA from 6.75 to 5.02.

Peralta downed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-4, in his most recent start on April 27, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings.

He is 2-1 in six career games at Miller Park.

He's opposed by veteran Jake Westbrook, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies when Peralta was 7 years old.

Westbrook was a 13-game winner for the Cardinals last season and has been strong in four starts this year albeit with just win to show for it.

He dropped a 1-0 decision at San Francisco to begin the season, then tossed a complete game in beating Cincinnati on April 10.

In two starts since, against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, he's allowed three runs on 13 hits in 12 innings.

The Cardinals lost both games.

Westbrook is 2-4 in eight career starts against Milwaukee.

On Wednesday in St. Louis, Matt Carpenter went 3-for-4 with two doubles and sparked a three-run sixth inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-2 win over Cincinnati to take two of three from their division rivals at Busch Stadium.

Allen Craig and Yadier Molina reached on a walk and single, respectively, with one away in the decisive sixth frame, which brought Carpenter to the plate for the go-ahead poke to right center field.

Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso followed with RBI-singles, chasing Reds starter Homer Bailey from the game. J.J. Hoover took over and retired the two batters he faced, but the damage had been done.

Lance Lynn (5-0) was sharp in seven innings of work for St. Louis, allowing just a run on five hits while striking out five en route to his 10th straight win dating back to last season.

Carlos Beltran homered for the Cardinals while Edward Mujica picked up his sixth save in as many tries this season.

"To be able to go out there and pitch like that and win games, that's what it's all about," said Lynn. "It feels good. I just have to keep trying to improve everyday, and that's what I'm going to do."

In Milwaukee, Brandon Inge singled in the go-ahead run as the Pittsburgh Pirates scored four times in the eighth inning to rally for a 6-4 victory over the Brewers.

Starling Marte began Pittsburgh's comeback with a two-run homer off John Axford in the eighth that knotted the score, with Pedro Alvarez contributing an RBI single later on to help the Pirates avoid a sweep of the three-game set and end a string of nine consecutive losses to Milwaukee.

Axford (0-3) was tagged for four runs -- three earned -- and four hits while getting just two outs after taking over for Brewers starter Hiram Burgos, who held Pittsburgh to two runs and four hits over seven sharp innings.

Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt had back-to-back solo homers in the fourth for a Milwaukee squad that had been aiming for a ninth consecutive home win.

The Cardinals won two of three games in an April series in St. Louis and took nine of 15 games in 2012. Milwaukee last won the series, 8-7, in 2010.