The St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday reached first place in the National League Central Division for the first time since April 5 Saturday with a dominating win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Redbirds hitters scored three runs in the first inning, two in the second and one in the third to jump out to a commanding lead. Meanwhile, ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright held Milwaukee batters down with two runs allowed over seven innings to put away the win.
The 10-2 win put the Cardinals in a first-place tie with Milwaukee, an outcome that seemed unrealistic less than two weeks ago when St. Louis trailed the Brewers by 6 1/2 games and seemed on the verge of spinning out of contention.
While the fact that the Brew Crew has dropped 11 of its last 12 games can't be underestimated in the equation that allowed St. Louis to catch back up, the Redbirds are doing their part, improving their offensive output and rallying around injured catcher Yadier Molina.
Tony Cruz, filling in for Molina, was 2-for-4 Saturday with three runs batted in to prove he's a more than adequate producer as a back-up catcher. Outfielder Jon Jay, who had slipped into a mini slump before Molina's injury, had three hits in four trips to the plate Saturday to raise his batting average to .291. Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta also collected two hits each Saturday.
Wainwright improved to 12-4 for the season although his ERA actually increased to 1.84 thanks to the two runs allowed. In his defense, the Cardinals allowed one of them to cross the plate uncontested to hold a runner at first base as they defended their big lead. It was basically a cosmetic run.
The Cardinals need to keep pushing until the break. They'll send Carlos Martinez to the hill Sunday with his 2-3 record and 4.12 ERA to face Wila Peralta who is 9-6 with a 3.95 ERA. On the line is everything from being in first place all by themselves to the possibility if the Cardinals lose and the Cincinnati Reds win out Saturday and Sunday that St. Louis could head to the break in third.