Tony Cruz singled in the winning run in the 13th inning and the St. Louis Cardinals moved closer to their second straight NL Central title with a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
The defending National League champions took two of three in a tight series that featured only 12 runs and another game that lasted 12 innings, and lead the division by 2 1/2 games with nine games to go. They begin their final home series of the year Friday night with the first of three against Cincinnati.
Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett had an RBI apiece for the Brewers, who are five games back and 3 1/2 out for the second NL wild card. Jonathan Lucroy's 45th double as a catcher tied the major league record for the position set by Ivan Rodriguez in 1996 and was his major league-leading 52nd overall.
Four straight St. Louis hitters reached against Jonathan Broxton with two outs in the eighth to tie it, resulting in the seventh blown save in Kyle Lohse's starts. Jon Jay had an RBI single and Matt Adams drew his second bases-loaded walk of the series.
The Brewers left two on in the 10th against Pat Neshek and loaded the bases with two outs in the 11th against Carlos Martinez, who escaped by striking out Carlos Gomez, then fanned Ryan Braun with a man on second to end the 12th.
Sam Freeman (2-0) had two strikeouts in a perfect 13th — the most innings in a Cardinals game this season.
Ramirez had two hits and has two homers and 10 RBIs against St. Louis this year.
Shelby Miller retired the first 11 in order before surrendering three straight two-out hits in the fourth, a rally started by Lucroy's double. Miller has allowed two earned runs in 26 innings this month and St. Louis starters have allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven straight starts.
Brewers starters have a 1.74 ERA in the last eight games. Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter is 1 for 16 against Lohse.
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny has no urgency to get another look at Justin Masterson, banished to the bullpen with a 7.53 ERA and limited to 1 1-3 innings since Aug. 30.
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo (8-10, 3.59) gets the call in the opener of a three-game series at Pittsburgh. He's 0-4 with a 5.25 ERA in his last five starts. The Brewers are 11-5 against the Pirates this year and 87-41 since 2007.
Cardinals: John Lackey makes his first start in nine days after getting skipped for the Milwaukee series. He's 2-2 with a 5.05 ERA for St. Louis and 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA overall.
Both teams failed to get the bunt down late. Pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos fouled off two attempts, the last resulting in a strikeout in the ninth and Carlos Gomez fouled out to catcher Tony Cruz in the 10th.
Link to box score: St. Louis (85-68) 3, Milwaukee (79-74) 2 (13 innings)
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