Brewers drop finale, lose series to division-leading Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter hits a RBI single during the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Morry Gash/Morry Gash/Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Brewers had finally gotten to Adam Wainwright in the ninth when St. Louis manager Mike Matheny came to the mound to check if his ace right-hander was tiring.

Matheny didn’t expect an honest answer. Wainwright stayed in the game anyway.

Wainwright got Gerardo Parra to bounce into a double play for his fourth complete game of the season, and the Cardinals beat sliding Milwaukee 9-1 on Sunday.

"I told him he had a short leash. I’m still waiting for that day when I go out there and he’s actually honest if he doesn’t feel good," Matheny said.

The Cardinals won three of four at Miller Park and lead the NL Central by 4 1/2 games over Pittsburgh, which beat Chicago 10-4 at Wrigley Field on Sunday.

"Now’s the time we’ve got to keep the throttle down," Matheny said. "This game can reach up and grab you."

The Brewers are well aware of how quickly fortunes can change. Losers of 11 of 12, their freefall continued after spending nearly five months atop the NL Central before dropping into second on Sept. 1.

They fell into third after Sunday’s loss, leapfrogged by Pittsburgh. The Pirates also moved a half-game ahead of Milwaukee for the second NL wild card.

Cardinals 9, Brewers 1

"There’s no excuse . . . it’s tough," outfielder Carlos Gomez said. "We know we’re not playing like a team. Just put it in the past and come tomorrow and win the . . . game."

St. Louis grabbed a 4-0 lead with four in the fourth against rookie Jimmy Nelson (2-7). Peter Bourjos had the big blow, a triple to left-center that drove in Yadier Molina and Oscar Taveras.

It was more than enough support for Wainwright (17-9), who is tied for the major league lead in victories. The right-hander allowed seven hits in his 20th career complete game.

Wainwright had allowed at least three runs in each of his previous three starts, failing to get out of the sixth each time.

But feast-or-famine Milwaukee managed just an RBI single by Gomez.

"Today was obviously a big win for our team, but you know just a realization of all the little steps I’ve been taking over the last few weeks — I knew it was a matter of time," Wainwright said.

And on cue, the Cardinals are in the middle of another September surge.

They held the Brewers scoreless until Gomez’s pinch-hit single in the ninth drove home Scooter Gennett from second. It was Gomez’s first at-bat in a week after being sidelined with a left wrist injury.