MILWAUKEE - Jon Lester notched his 200th career win, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Monday night for their ninth consecutive win.
The Cardinals have won nine straight for the first time since 2004 to solidify their grip on the second NL wild card. They entered the night three agmes ahead of Cincinnati and Philadelphia for the final postseason spot.
The longest winning streak in franchise history is 14 games, set in 1935.
Milwaukee's magic number over the Cardinals to clinch the division title remained at three.
Lester (7-6) is the third active pitcher with 200 wins, joining Houston teammates Justin Verlander (226) and Zack Greinke (219). He’s the 30th left-hander in major-league history to reach the mark.
St. Louis got on the board in the first on Arenado’s homer, his 33rd of the season, off Freddy Peralta (9-5).
Milwaukee clawed right back in the second. Avisail Garcia, who returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with lower back spasms, led off with a homer off Lester. Luis Urias followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own to tie it.
Lester retired 10 straight until giving up a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the fifth. Lester surrendered three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter in an efficient, 77-pitch outing.
Cardinals' relievers Kodi Whitley, T.J. McFarland and Luis García held the Brewers scoreless over the final three innings. García got his first save of the season.
Peralta retired 11 of 12 until allowing the first two batters to reach in the sixth. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead on Yadier Molina’s run-scoring single.
Peralta gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
St. Louis tacked on a run in the seventh when Matt Carpenter, batting for Lester, hit a leadoff double and scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s sacrifice fly. Molina drove in another run in the eighth to extend the lead to 5-2.
Cardinals: OF Tyler O’Neill appear to be in considerable pain after fouling a ball off his left shin in the sixth. He remained in the game after a visit from the trainer.
Brewers: Reinstated SS Willy Adames (left quadriceps strain) from the 10-day injured list and optioned INF/OF Tim Lopes to Triple-A Nashville. "He’s been annoying for a couple days, in a nice way," manager Craig Counsell said of Adames. "He’s been ready to play. You can kind of sense that." ... OF Lorenzo Cain remained out of the starting lineup as he continues to deal with soreness from crashing into an outfield wall on Saturday. "It’s not as bad as we thought," Counsell said. ... Bradley started in place of Cain but is dealing with plantar fasciitis. ... LHP Brent Suter had a stomach bug that recently limited his availability, according to Counsell.
RHP Jake Woodford (2-3, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals in the second game of the series while RHP Brandon Woodruff (9-9, 2.55) goes for the Brewers. Woodford will be making his second career start against Milwaukee. Woodruff is 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA in eight career games (six starts) vs. St. Louis.