The Milwaukee Brewers had been one of the worst teams in the majors when playing on the road this season. That seems to have changed in the last week.
The Brewers will try to complete a 6-0 road trip and tighten their grip of the NL Central on Thursday night with a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Milwaukee (67-50) owns the best home record in the majors at 41-15, but had been 20-35 away from home heading into Houston last Friday. The Brewers swept the last-place Astros and improved to 5-0 on the trip with Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Cardinals.
“I think we carried over what we were doing at home and I’m hoping that this is the point where it doesn’t really matter to them whether we’re at home or road, they know we can win at both places,” rookie manager Ron Roenicke said.
Roenicke’s team has outscored the opposition 32-13 during the winning streak, helping Milwaukee open a five-game lead over St. Louis (62-55) in the Central. The Brewers are a major league-best 13-1 since July 26, and 8-3 against the Cardinals this season.
“We’ve just got to keep playing well,” said Wednesday’s winning pitcher Randy Wolf, who allowed one run in eight innings. “We have a tough schedule ahead of us. We can’t sit back and think we can cruise from here on out.”
Milwaukee hasn’t swept a series in St. Louis since Oct. 2-4, 2009. The Brewers and Cardinals have six matchups remaining after this set.
Albert Pujols had a sacrifice fly Wednesday for St. Louis (62-55), but is 0 for 8 in the series and 5 for 42 (.119) with four RBIs against Milwaukee this year.
“It’s not about me, dude, it’s about the ballclub,” Pujols said. “If I go 0 for 8 and we would have gotten two wins out there, who cares about it?”
However, Pujols is batting .348 in Cardinals wins this season, compared with .188 in losses.
He is 6 for 19 with four RBIs, four walks and three strikeouts against Yovani Gallardo (13-7, 3.56 ERA), who gets the start for the Brewers at the site of his best outing of 2011.
Gallardo limited the Cardinals to one hit with four full-count walks and six strikeouts over eight innings of a 4-0 win May 7 at Busch Stadium. His no-hit bid was spoiled by rookie Daniel Descalso’s single leading off the eighth, and it was the right-hander’s first win in eight career starts against St. Louis.
Gallardo has won his last two starts, both against Houston. He allowed one run, four hits, walked one and fanned six in eight innings of Friday’s 8-1 road victory.
Lance Berkman, who wasn’t in the lineup Wednesday due to his ineffectiveness against Wolf, is 5 for 18 with seven walks and seven strikeouts when facing Gallardo. Matt Holliday was also out Wednesday with an injury sustained in the weight room, and he may miss this game as well.
The Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter (7-8, 3.75) hopes a change of venue will result in his first win over the Brewers this year.
The right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA against Milwaukee in 2011, allowing 10 runs in 11 innings. Since joining the Cardinals in 2004, Carpenter is 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four home starts versus the Brewers.
He picked up his first win in three outings Saturday, allowing a run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory over Florida.
Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder is 6 for 19 with two homers, three RBIs, four walks and seven strikeouts against the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner.