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Big hit eludes Brewers again, skid at 9 after 3-2 loss to Cardinals

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MILWAUKEE - Logan Schafer thought his high, hard liner to deep centre would land safely for a hit.

Peter Bourjos had other plans.

St. Louis' fleet-footed outfielder tracked down Schafer's drive near the wall in the eighth with the potential tying run at second, and six Cardinals relievers combined for six innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 win Thursday night to hand the Milwaukee Brewers their ninth straight loss.

The eighth inning exemplified the recent difficult stretch for the Brewers.

"We were in it the whole time," Schafer said. "Again, we're just waiting for that big hit."

It better come soon.

The Cardinals moved a season-high 14 games above .500 and extended their lead to four games in the NL Central over the Brewers.

St. Louis used the bullpen early after Michael Wacha was limited to three innings in his first start off the disabled list. Marco Gonzales (2-2) went 2 1-3 innings for the win.

The Brewers stranded potential tying runs in scoring position from the sixth through the ninth.

"The bullpen came in there and shut the door for those last six innings," Wacha said. "That was fun to watch."

St. Louis never trailed after Yadier Molina's two-run single in the first off Wily Peralta (15-10).

Still, the Brewers had numerous chances to snap out of their funk.

Seth Maness got the Cardinals out of the sixth by inducing Schafer to fly out in foul territory with a runner on third. Carlos Martinez got third-place hitter Jonathan Lucroy to pop out to end the seventh with another runner on third.

In the eighth, the Brewers put runners on first and second with nobody out against Pat Neshek. The side-arming right-hander bounced back by getting Martin Maldonado to pop up a bunt before Schafer's fly was corralled by Bourjos for the second out.

Jean Segura sent a flare to left fielder Matt Holliday, ending the threat.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke at least liked the fight he saw in his club.

"We hit a lot of balls hard. Either they made a really good play on it or we hit it right at 'em," Roenicke said.

GLOVE WORK

Jon Jay made two nice catches in right field for the Cardinals to save a couple of hits. Bourjos topped him with his play in the eighth.

Bourjos said he had a good jump, and he didn't think the ball was going to go out for a homer, so it was a matter of getting to the wall in time.

"That's probably the biggest (catch) because of the situation in the year and situation in the game," he said.

FINISHING IT OFF

The Cardinals used six relievers in all, with closer Trevor Rosenthal issuing two walks to put runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth. Rosenthal got pinch-hitter Jason Rogers to fly out to the edge of the warning track in right for his 42nd save.

"We had guys picking each other up all night," manager Mike Matheny said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: Wacha threw 50 pitches and struck out three. He allowed three hits, including Lucroy's RBI single in the first. The right-hander had been on the disabled list since June 18 with a right shoulder injury.

Brewers: Carlos Gomez pinch ran but remained out of the starting lineup with a left wrist injury. Roenicke said his leadoff hitter was feeling good, and the team doctor would re-evaluate Gomez in the hope that he might be able to return soon. Gomez has been sidelined since Monday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: John Lackey (2-1) gets the start Friday, when he hopes for a repeat performance of his first start with the Cardinals after being traded from Boston. He gave up two runs in seven innings in a 3-2 victory.

Brewers: Mike Fiers (4-2) is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals, both coming in 2012.

BABY BRAUN

Ryan Braun missed a second straight game following the birth of his daughter Wednesday night. The right fielder appears likely to return Friday.

"I'd like (him) and Gomey in the lineup," Roenicke said. "But you've got to do what you've got to do. This is obviously the most important thing in his life."

___

Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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