Westbrook's slam lifts Cardinals over Brewers 8-3
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook hit a grand slam to lead St. Louis to an 8-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols added solo homers as the Cardinals won their fifth in six games to cut the first-place Brewers' lead to 8½ games in the NL Central.
The win guaranteed Milwaukee will lose its first series at home since Arizona took two of three at Miller Park July 4-6.
Furcal led off the game with a blast and Pujols followed two batters later with his NL-leading 32nd homer. Westbrook (11-7) tossed five innings, and his slam in the fourth gave St. Louis a 6-2 lead.
Corey Hart homered to start the game for Milwaukee, but Ryan Braun fell halfway down the third-base line on what would've been an inside-the-park homer in the third.
Milwaukee has the best home record in the majors at 50-18, but the Brewers have been sloppy each of the last two games and failed in their second and final chance to set a new franchise record for wins in any month at 22.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf (11-9) couldn't escape trouble in the fourth with the game tied at 2 after hitting the first two batters of the inning.
Yadier Molina followed with a sharp fly ball that hit the right-field wall.
David Freese stopped at third and Lance Berkman couldn't advance past second, leaving Molina momentarily hung up on the bases, but the Cardinals catcher scrambled back to first just ahead of Prince Fielder's tag to load the bases.
After Ryan Theriot's fielder's choice cut down Freese at the plate, Westbrook hit a drive down the left-field line for his first career home run. Pinch hitter Corey Patterson's RBI double and Furcal's run-scoring single off Marco Estrada in the sixth gave St. Louis an 8-3 lead.
Hart hit his fifth leadoff homer this season to cut St. Louis' lead to 2-1.
With Nyjer Morgan on first in the third inning, Braun appeared to have an inside-the-park home run when center fielder Allen Craig awkwardly dove at the wall and the ball caromed away.
Braun rounded third base but lost his balance down the line and fell flat. By the time he got back on his feet, Molina had the relay throw and began a rundown that ended when Freese tagged him out at third.
Braun received a standing ovation from the crowd of 38,073 and a few chuckles in the dugout for his RBI triple, but the play only tied the score at 2 instead of giving the Brewers the lead.
Westbrook followed with his big hit before Jerry Hairston's single in the fourth cut St. Louis' lead to 6-3, but the Brewers never got closer.
NOTES: It was Furcal's 28th career leadoff home run. ... The Brewers agreed to terms with 16-year-old OF Juan Ortiz from the Dominican Republic on a 2012 minor league contract. The agreement is pending a standard MLB age-identification investigation. ... The Cardinals will shuffle their rotation again this weekend by moving Edwin Jackson to Sunday's game against the Reds to help him avoid pitching against the Brewers for a fourth time in the span of just over a month. ... Milwaukee will try to avoid being swept at home for the first time this season on Thursday when Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.37 ERA) faces rookie RHP Brandon Dickson, who'll be making his first major league start and third career appearance.