MILWAUKEE (AP) - Chris Carpenter's brilliant start against the Milwaukee Brewers turned into a big mess in a hurry.
Nyjer Morgan hit a go-ahead, three-run double and the Brewers scored five times in the fifth off Carpenter to rally for a 6-2 win over St. Louis on Monday night.
Milwaukee's first six batters reached base in the fifth, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's didn't like what he saw from his vantage point.
``They got five runs off not enough contact,' La Russa said. ``Some of that, we could have defended better. Some of it was tough breaks.'
Carpenter (6-8) had allowed only one hit in the first four innings, but needed seven batters to record his first out the next frame.
Yuniesky Betancourt singled to lead off the inning and Casey McGehee executed a hit-and-run single past second baseman Skip Schumaker to put runners at the corners.
Jonathan Lucroy's chopper went over the head of third baseman David Freese to score a run and the Cardinals' defense failed to cover first or third when Zack Greinke (9-4) laid down a bunt that loaded the bases.
Corey Hart followed with an RBI single that tied it at 2 before Morgan hit his bases-clearing double to put Milwaukee up 5-2.
``I am not quite sure what happened in the fifth,' said Carpenter, who didn't return for the sixth. ``I made a couple bad pitches, kept the ball up a few different times, had some tough breaks. Nyjer hit a ball that I thought was a pretty good pitch and cleared the bases. That is going to happen when you face a tough ball club like these guys.'
St. Louis lost ground on Milwaukee, which is 3 1-2 games up in the NL Central and have won seven straight. The Brewers and Cardinals will play 11 more times this year.
Greinke (9-4) allowed a first-inning, two-run homer to Matt Holliday, but the Brewers offense prevailed again in the second matchup this season of the Cy Young winners.
St. Louis had a couple of chances to rally, and the Cardinals loaded the bases in the fifth with one out after Greinke walked Holliday and allowed hits to Lance Berkman and Freese before Schumaker grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Schumaker believed he was safe and that Yadier Molina could have helped the Cardinals rally.
``I was safe. That was a huge play. It is upsetting because it is a big play in the game,' Schumaker said. ``Yadier is on deck and drives in a lot of runs in big situations.'
New acquisition Rafael Furcal singled to lead off the game for St. Louis and Holliday hit a two-out homer, his first since participating in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break.
St. Louis (57-52) was in a virtual tie atop the NL Central with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh on July 24, but the Brewers' winning streak has helped them open up a lead after St. Louis stumbled to a 4-3 mark in a homestand against the Astros and Cubs before heading on this seven-game road trip.
``It was the classic matchup,' Schumaker said. ``Grienke had great stuff going and Carp had great stuff going. It is just too bad they won and we didn't.'
NOTES: Schumaker said he would be fine with playing center field if called upon after Colby Rasmus was traded to Toronto. La Russa said Schumaker could get starts there if Jon Jay needed a day off. ... Molina extended his hitting streak to a season-best 10 games with a single in the second. .... Milwaukee sold out its fourth consecutive game and has 18 sellouts this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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