Marcell Ozuna’s two-run single in the first inning spotted St. Louis an early lead, and rookie Jack Flaherty continued his mastery over Milwaukee as the Cardinals defeated the visiting Brewers 5-2 on Friday at Busch Stadium in the opener of a key three-game series between the two National League Central rivals.
The win was the ninth in the past 10 games for St. Louis and allowed it to move to within a half-game of the Brewers in the NL wild-card race.
Flaherty (7-6) dominated the Brewers for the third time this season, scattering three hits in six innings while striking out seven and walking three. Flaherty has now struck out 29 Brewers batters in 18 innings over his three appearances against them this season.
Bud Norris allowed a hit and struck out one in the ninth to earn his 24th save of the year.
Ozuna got the Cardinals off on the right foot when his one-out single in the first inning drove home Yadier Molina and Jose Martinez from third and second base, respectively, and spotted St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
Jedd Gyorko added to the advantage with a solo home run over the left field fence in the fourth.
Milwaukee rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta (5-4) took the loss upon allowing three runs on three hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
Jordan Hicks began the eighth for the Cardinals and gave up a single to Christian Yelich before walking the bases loaded with one out. Jesus Aguilar’s two-run single brought the Brewers to within 3-2, but Hicks worked his way out of the jam with St. Louis still in the lead.
St. Louis immediately responded, scoring a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run double by Kolten Wong off Milwaukee reliever Jordan Lyles.
The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter extended his major-league-leading streak of reaching base to 35 games when he was intentionally walked in the seventh inning.
Milwaukee first baseman Eric Thames left the game in the third inning with left knee soreness after colliding with outfielder Lorenzo Cain while catching a popup in the first inning.
The Brewers played without outfielder Ryan Braun (rib cage tightness) and catcher Manny Pina (left shoulder), both of whom left Wednesday’s 8-4 loss at Chicago because the minor injuries.
—Field Level Media