MILWAUKEE (AP) — Manager Ron Roenicke wants Casey McGehee to play a big role in the Brewers’ offense, not try to carry the club. McGehee did both Wednesday.
The Brewers third baseman homered three times and Milwaukee rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-5 and add to their NL Central lead.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had three in a game ever. It’s something I’ll definitely remember. It was kind of one of those out of body experiences,” McGehee said. “It was nice, especially to be able to sit back and enjoy it that we were able to win the game.”
McGehee hit go-ahead, two-run homers in both the first and third innings and added a seventh-inning solo shot to give Milwaukee its eighth win in nine games at Miller Park. Corey Hart also homered for the Brewers, who extended their lead over the Cardinals to 3½ games in the division.
Rafael Furcal hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs off Randy Wolf (8-8) in his fourth game since being acquired Sunday in a trade with the Dodgers, but new Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson struggled.
Jackson (1-1) made his second start with St. Louis since being acquired in a three-team trade with the White Sox. He gave up 10 runs — eight earned — and allowed 14 hits over seven innings of extended work because of St. Louis’ worn-down bullpen following an 11-inning win on Tuesday.
“We’re playing 20 in a row,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We needed to get as deep in his allotment today as he could. He took it for us. We appreciate it.”
David Freese singled in a run to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the first. Hart homered to start the bottom of the inning and McGehee hit a two-out, two-run home run to make it 3-1.
Furcal’s three-run homer — his first in a Cardinals uniform — gave St. Louis a 4-3 lead in the second, but McGehee answered again with another two-run homer in the third to put Milwaukee ahead for good, 5-4. McGehee’s second homer was hit so hard that left fielder Matt Holliday never moved to try and chase it.
The Brewers pulled away from there, improving to an MLB-best 41-15 at home this season.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina cost St. Louis two unearned runs when Ryan Braun scored on a passed ball in the fifth, and George Kottaras scored from third to make it 9-5 after Molina threw a ball into center field trying to catch Hart stealing in the sixth.
McGehee followed with a solo shot in the seventh for the final margin and came out for a curtain call. The third baseman appears to be breaking out of his season-long slump. He’s hitting .351 with 12 RBIs over his last 15 games to lift his batting average from .221 to .240.
“He puts more on himself than maybe he should. He’s not the guy that’s going to carry this team,” Roenicke said. “He’s a huge part in that offense and I don’t ever want him thinking if he’s not doing his part, that’s the reason why we’re not winning because he’s big for us, but so are a lot of other guys.”
The Brewers need a hitter in the fifth spot to protect Prince Fielder since Rickie Weeks went out of the lineup with a severely sprained ankle and may need up to six weeks to recover.
“I feel like the guys in here have definitely stood by me, had confidence in me,” McGehee said. “I think especially with Rick being out, we’ve all got to kind of band together, pick up the slack because that’s something that’s really tough to replace.”
It was a heated series throughout and could be a prelude of things to come — the teams square off nine more times this season with a three-game matchup beginning Tuesday in St. Louis.
“We’ve got a lot of baseball left, by no means, no matter what happened in this series was going to be the nail in the coffin either way,” McGehee said. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do, but we’re definitely, I feel like, on the right track.”
Milwaukee won Monday’s opener 6-2 and the Cardinals complained about the LED ribbon scoreboards around Miller Park giving the home team an unfair lighting advantage. The Cardinals took Tuesday’s game 8-7 in 11 after bean ball warnings were issued to both benches in the seventh. Furcal saved the game with a catch in the ninth, Molina confronted umpire Rob Drake and was ejected in the 10th and Lance Berkman won it with a two-out hit in the 11th.
Molina and the Cardinals had not heard what discipline the All-Star catcher might receive for his actions with Drake.
Albert Pujols played after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday night near where he broke his left wrist earlier this season. He finished 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.
“He’ll never admit to anything. It is what it is,” La Russa said. “I’m sure he’s sore. No excuses.”
NOTES … Roenicke said crew chief Gary Darling asked both managers to come to the plate to exchange the lineups pregame after the theatrics of Tuesday night. “(He) told us `Hey, let’s just play baseball,” Roenicke said. … McGehee is the 11th player in franchise history to hit three homers in a game. … The Brewers agreed to terms with LHP Randy Flores on a minor-league contract. … The Cardinals continue their seven-game road trip with a weekend series in Florida. St. Louis will send RHP Kyle Lohse (9-7, 3.33 ERA) to face Marlins RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-4, 3.74 ERA). … Milwaukee has Thursday off.
Copyright Associated Press