Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill homered as the St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th straight game, extending their lead for the second NL wild-card spot and beating the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers 10-2 Wednesday night.
Goldschmidt also doubled, singled and scored four runs to help St. Louis stretch its best winning streak since an 11-game string in 2001.
The Cardinals’ longest winning streak in franchise history is 14, in 1935 with a team led by Hall of Famer pitcher Dizzy Dean.
St. Louis was 8½ games out of a wild-card spot on Aug. 10 before surging. They now lead by 4 1/2 games over Cincinnati and Philadelphia for the final NL playoff slot.
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“We grow from the previous days. We grew from today, we’ll get after it tomorrow,” manager Mike Shildt said. “One of the biggest things this team does is just stay present, so it’s just about staying present, keep playing, getting after it.”
The Brewers clinched their fourth straight playoff berth on Sept. 18, but have since lost four straight, including three to the Cardinals. They have scored a total of only five runs in the three games against St. Louis.
“You score runs by, up and down the lineup, having tough at-bats,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We’ve got to string together some hits. We haven’t done that. There’s no secret on what offense is. We haven’t done it over the past four or five days. We’re going to need to score more runs, I think that’s pretty clear. We will. Just didn’t do it again tonight.”
The Brewers, whose magic number to clinch the NL Central stayed at three, lead the Cardinals by 8½ games.
Miles Mikolas (2-2), who missed all of 2020 with an injured right shoulder and a considerable part of this season with forearm tightness, gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings. It was his longest outing of the season.
“I love feeling a little bit of the pressure there like, hey, don’t drop the ball, don’t mess this up, we’ve got a really nice streak going here,” Mikolas said. “I like having a little bit of pressure on me. I think a little bit of pressure brings out the best in most. I think it brings out the best in me, for sure.”
“You make a little snowball on top of the mountain, you push it down, it just keeps picking up snow, getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “I think that’s little bit of a metaphor for what we’re doing right now.”
St. Louis scored six runs before Milwaukee starter Brett Anderson (4-9) departed with two outs in the second inning. He faced 13 batters, giving up six hits, including a home run and three consecutive doubles.
The left-hander was reinstated from the 10-day injured list to make the start. He had exited his previous start after two innings after being hit by a line drive and suffering a bruised left shoulder.
“Physically, I felt fine. Just command, it took off and wasn’t able to make a pitch to get out of the second inning,” Anderson said.
O’Neill’s 29th home run gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the first. Tommy Edman hit a sacrifice fly in the second that drove in two runs — runners were able to score from third and second after center fielder Lorenzo Cain crashed into the wall as he made the catch and fell to the ground.
Goldschmidt hit a 433-foot home run, his 27th, off Hunter Strickland in the eighth. The Cardinals got 15 hits, including two each by O’Neill, Nolan Arenado, Edmundo Sosa, Dylan Carlson and Harrison Bader.
Mikolas retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. He made his eighth start of the season and his seventh since being activated Aug. 20.
The 33-year-old right-hander, a 2018 All-Star, pitched 5⅔ shutout innings in his last start, a win over the Padres.
Avisaíl García hit his 29th home run of the season off Mikolas in the seventh.
Jace Peterson, who started the game at first base, pitched a scoreless ninth for Milwaukee.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty will start the second game of Friday’s doubleheader in Chicago against the Cubs, Shildt said. Flaherty went on the 10-day IL (right shoulder strain) on Aug. 25. … Arenado left the game in the fifth inning with lower back tightness. In the second, he made an underhand catch of a popup before flopping onto the roll of tarpaulin in foul territory in left field to retire Omar Narváez.
Brewers: Counsell remarked on SS Willy Adames, who had the night off. “The best thing that I can say about Willy is that, there’s a lot of players that love the game. Willy loves every part of the day, basically,” Counsell said. “He loves batting practice, he goes to the training room, he loves it, he loves every part of it. That wears off on everyone.”
CARDS’ WIN STREAK
The managers commented before the game on how the Cardinals have put together their winning streak. “The consistency of the pitching and the offense, I think that those working in sync,” Shildt said. “We’ve really played pretty clean baseball, for the most part, all season. But we’ve got our pitching and then our hitting going together. That’s been the difference.”
Counsell said: “They’re getting contributions from a lot of players on their roster on different nights, they’re not making mistakes that beat them, they’re getting timely hits. That’s stuff that needs to happen.”
The four-game series ends Thursday afternoon with Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (16-7, 2.89 ERA) facing Brewers RHP Adrian Houser (9-6, 3.43 ERA). The 40-year-old Wainwright, who has pitched 196⅓ innings, won five straight starts until a no-decision in his last outing. Houser struck out seven and gave up three hits in a complete-game shutout in his last start against the Cardinals, on Sept. 4.