Tommy Pham homered twice and tripled, Matt Carpenter added a solo shot and Jaime Garcia went 6 1/3 innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
The Cardinals increased their lead in the NL Central to four games over the Pirates, who lost 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs.
Pham’s two-run shots came in the second and the fourth off Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (5-9). It was the rookie’s third and fourth home runs of the season and first multi-homer effort in 43 career games over this season and last. He was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on August 17 when Randal Grichuk went on the disabled list with a right elbow strain.
Pham downplayed his success.
"I didn’t try to do too much today," the 27-year-old left fielder said. "I went into the game with the mindset of have some good at bats."
He did just that.
His first home run came on a 3-1 pitch he deposited over the wall in center. His second blast was on a 3-2 count that ended up on the short porch near dead center.
"I laid off some good pitches, and he put me in some hitter’s counts," Pham said. "When you’re throwing in a zone, I put a good swing on it. The byproduct was just the result of me laying off his pitches and getting good looks."
Garcia liked what he saw out of Pham who is in his second stint with the Cardinals this season.
"Offensively, you saw what he did," Garcia said. "He’s a kid. He’s been working really hard."
Carpenter led off the third with his 22nd home run and 74th RBI of the season, both team highs.
Garcia (9-5) won for the third time in his last four starts and improved to 6-1 in nine starts since Aug. 1, helping the Cardinals go 8-1 over that span.
Garcia’s only trouble came in the fourth when the Brewers pushed across four runs, highlighted by Martin Maldonado’s three-run homer.
"It was literally one pitch," Garcia said. "He put a good swing on the mistake I made. At the same time, I was able to stay in the game. That really didn’t affect me mentally or physically. I was able to continue to make pitches just as if nothing happened. It was just a mistake, and I paid for it."
Garcia allowed eight hits, struck out four, walked one in 6 1/3 innings as the Cardinals won their third straight after a 2-8 skid.
Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth for his 45th save, matching his career high set in 2014.
Peralta hadn’t allowed a home run in four starts since Aug. 19 against the Miami Marlins, but Pham and Carpenter ended that quickly.
It was the first time Peralta faced Pham.
"So far, he’s good," Peralta said of his first impression of Pham. "Two ABs, two homers. I get to face St. Louis again, so I try to get him out."
Peralta walked two and struck out two before being pinch hit for in the bottom of the fourth. He lost all four starts this season and is 0-5 with a 5.73 ERA in his last six against St. Louis.
The first two batters singled in the Brewers half of the fourth before Elian Herrera knocked in a run with a bloop base hit. Maldonado followed with his fourth home run of the season, a three-run drive that landed in the Cardinals’ bullpen in right-center field.
Cardinals righty John Lackey (11-9, 2.89 ERA) makes his team-leading 30th start and fourth against the Brewers this season. He is 2-0 with a 2.70 over that span.
Brewers righty Jimmy Nelson (11-12, 3.95 ERA) makes his team-leading 30th start and third against the Cardinals this season. He is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in the two prior starts. Overall, he is 0-4 with an 8.72 ERA in five career games, including four starts, facing St. Louis.
Brewers veteran Ryan Braun missed the game with tightness in his lower back. Manager Craig Counsell said Braun was day-to-day. "I’m definitely hopeful that he plays tomorrow," Counsell said. "It was a little tight yesterday, worse today."
CARDS OWN MILWAUKEE
The Cardinals are 10-4 against the Brewers this season.