MILWAUKEE (AP) — Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead, two-run homer and Zack Greinke outpitched fellow Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter to lift the Milwaukee Brewers over the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Saturday night.
Milwaukee, the hottest team in baseball over the last month, pulled within a half-game of St. Louis for the division lead.
Prince Fielder hit his seventh homer in the last eight games and Corey Hart added a two-run double for the Brewers, who keep improving on their major-league best home record.
Lance Berkman homered off Greinke (6-1) to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but Milwaukee scored four times in the bottom of the inning off Carpenter (1-6) on Weeks’ shot and Hart’s double.
Daniel Descalso’s run-scoring double cut Milwaukee’s lead to 5-3 in the seventh, but reliever Kameron Loe pitched a quiet eighth and John Axford converted his 14th straight save opportunity and 17th overall in the ninth.
Milwaukee is off to their best start in franchise history at home at 24-9. St. Louis came into town with the most road wins in the majors at 20, but the Cardinals will try to avoid being swept out of first place on Sunday.
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner, missed the first month of the season with a cracked rib and lost his first start against Atlanta, but has gone 6-0 in his last seven appearances coinciding with Milwaukee’s ascent in the standings.
He was sharp again with nine strikeouts over seven innings, helping the Brewers (37-28) reach nine games over .500 for the first time in more than two years.
Fielder put Milwaukee ahead in the second on a 420-foot solo homer, his 18th this season. The ball ricocheted so hard off the outfield railing that shortstop Ryan Theriot retrieved it in shallow center field.
St. Louis answered with Yadier Molina’s two-out, run-scoring double in the fourth and Berkman’s solo shot in the sixth to go ahead 2-1, setting the stage for Milwaukee’s big inning.
Greinke started with a single and Weeks followed with an opposite-field homer to right. Hart’s two-out double made it 5-2 after Carpenter uncharacteristically walked Fielder and slumping Casey McGehee.
Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young winner, has lost his last four decisions and is off to his worst start since beginning his career 1-7 in Toronto in 1997.
St. Louis right fielder Jon Jay made an over-the-shoulder diving catch near the wall to end the fourth, banging awkwardly into the lower padding. The extraordinary effort left Carpenter with a smile of disbelief as he walked toward the dugout, but the good times for the Cardinals wouldn’t last long.
NOTES: Brewers SS Yuniesky Betancourt is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday after Counsell got two straight starts. Betancourt is hitting .230 with three homers and 20 RBIs this year. … Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols doubled in the first to extend his hitting streak to nine games. … Both teams wore special uniforms as part of sixth annual Cerveceros Day to honor the Hispanic community. The Brewers wore gold jerseys with the Spanish translation “Cerveceros.” The Cardinals’ uniforms said “Cardenales.” … Greinke’s bobblehead day is Sunday.
Copyright Associated Press