Cards might be crying Wolf

The Milwaukee Brewers have built their NL Central lead to four games, in large part due to their success against the second-place St. Louis Cardinals.

Milwaukee can add to its lead and earn an eighth win over St. Louis this season when the teams continue their series Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

The Brewers (66-50) have won seven of the first 10 meetings after their 5-3 victory in 10 innings Tuesday, which snapped the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak. It marked Milwaukee’s 12th win in its last 13 games overall, with the only loss during that stretch Aug. 2 against St. Louis.

Casey McGehee broke the tie with an RBI double in the 10th inning, and Corey Hart hit a two-run homer in the third after sitting out Sunday’s win over Houston with a bruised left hand.

“It’s always important to get that first game (of the series), always,” said manager Ron Roenicke, whose team has won the first four games of a six-game road trip. “It helps guys relax, it helps them also to build confidence.”

Tempers seem to have cooled since last week’s series, when Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun were each hit with a pitch and Yadier Molina was suspended five games for spraying an umpire with spittle during an argument Aug. 2. Molina served the last game of his suspension Tuesday and is eligible to return for this matchup.

Randy Wolf (8-8, 3.61 ERA) beat the Cardinals in last Wednesday’s series finale despite yielding five runs in six innings. It was the most runs Wolf has allowed in five starts after posting a 2.30 ERA in his previous four outings, but he got plenty of support from McGehee’s three homers in the 10-5 victory.

The left-hander also was roughed up by the Cardinals on May 6, giving up six runs in five innings of a 6-0 loss. Pujols is 10 for 34 with two homers lifetime off Wolf, but he’s hitting .128 against Milwaukee this season.

Pujols went 0 for 5 on Tuesday after going 8 for 18 with three homers in his previous four games.

Lance Berkman was 1 for 5 and has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games. He said that despite the Brewers’ lead, the Cardinals (62-54) are by no means out of the race – especially with eight games remaining between the teams.

“I remember (playing with Houston) being nine back of this club with about 11 games left in the (2008) season and we almost tied them, so anything can happen,” Berkman said. “When you have a chance to play the team that’s in front of you, you would like to take advantage of it, but they’re in front of us for a reason.”

Jake Westbrook (9-5, 4.83) is scheduled to take the mound Wednesday after struggling the last time he faced Milwaukee. The right-hander lost 4-3 on June 12 in his lone start against the Brewers this season, giving up four runs and eight hits in five innings.

He’s never beaten Milwaukee, though he has a 2.84 ERA in three career meetings.

Westbrook is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in five outings since the All-Star break after allowing two runs in six innings of St. Louis’ 3-2 win at Florida on Friday.

Prince Fielder, hitting .486 with 11 RBIs over his last nine games, is 4 for 8 with a homer in his career against Westbrook.

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