Lance Lynn had trouble throwing his fastball for strikes Friday night. He was still good enough to shut down the Milwaukee Brewers.
Randal Grichuk hit a three-run homer to cap a six-run fifth inning, and Lynn pitched the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-0 victory.
Lynn (9-6) stranded nine runners in six innings as the NL Central leaders became the first major league team to reach 70 wins this season. He allowed six hits and four walks while throwing 109 pitches.
''He gave us a bunch of zeros, which is good, but it was not, I think, the kind of good you expect to see from him,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ''Once again, he fought with fastball command.''
It was the second consecutive shutout and 12th this season for the Cardinals (70-39), who beat Cincinnati 3-0 on Thursday behind All-Star Michael Wacha.
Brewers rookie Tyler Cravy (0-3) replaced veteran Kyle Lohse in the rotation and had little trouble with St. Louis until unraveling in the fifth. The Cardinals had three doubles, a walk and a single in the inning before Grichuk hit his 14th homer.
''He was really good the first four innings,'' Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said of Cravy. ''There were just some pitches in the middle of the plate and they took good swings on them.''
The Cardinals have won 42 of 63 games against the Brewers since St. Louis beat Milwaukee in six games in the 2011 NL Championship Series.
Cravy allowed three hits and a walk through the first four innings in his fourth major league appearance. Before the game, Matheny suggested his team might have more success as the game wore on and his hitters saw more of the rookie's pitches.
Matt Carpenter, who had a pair of doubles, said that's exactly what happened.
''Anytime you face a guy more and more times, you feel more and more comfortable,'' Carpenter said. ''He had a fastball that we were having trouble picking up at first, but the third time through the lineup we got on it.''
Cravy pitched five innings, giving up six runs and eight hits.
''They started hitting the ball where it's pitched,'' he said. ''They weren't trying to do too much and started going with pitches. I didn't miss too many barrels that inning.''
Since returning to the leadoff spot for the Cardinals on July 30, Carpenter is batting .406 (13 for 32) with five home runs and 10 RBIs.
The Brewers left two runners on in the first, second and fourth against Lynn. Milwaukee loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but the big right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Logan Schafer to end his night on the mound.
''When runners were in scoring position I was able to make a pitch,'' Lynn said. ''When you pitch yourself into those situations a lot, you learn how to get out of it.''
Carlos Villanueva worked three perfect innings for his second save.
The game was a rematch of the starting pitchers from June 2, when Lynn and the Cardinals beat the Brewers 1-0 in Cravy's big league debut.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Milwaukee. Shane Peterson went 3 for 4 with three singles.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
The person wearing the polish sausage costume during the nightly sausage race had a wardrobe malfunction. While running near home plate, the person's short pants fell below the knees, but the ''sausage'' kept running and finished the race.
RARE IN RELIEF
Lohse, demoted to the bullpen after going 5-13 with a 6.31 ERA in 22 starts, made his first relief appearance since Sept. 8, 2009, when he pitched a scoreless innings for the Cardinals against Milwaukee. The right-hander worked two shutout innings in this one.
Cardinals: Citing the need to rest arms in the bullpen, the team recalled LHP Tyler Lyons from Triple-A Memphis and optioned INF Greg Garcia to its top farm club. ''We have some guys that are beat up,'' Matheny said. It is the fourth time Lyons has been recalled this season. He is 2-1 with a 5.02 ERA in six starts for the Cardinals this year, but will pitch out of the bullpen this time.
Brewers: Trailing 6-0, the Brewers removed Ryan Braun after seven innings. He also was pulled after seven innings Monday in a 13-5 loss. He missed two games in late July with a strained ribcage.
Cardinals: St. Louis has been shut out in four of Saturday starter Jaime Garcia's nine starts, but the left-hander has fared well against Milwaukee. He is 6-4 with a 3.09 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
Brewers: Wily Peralta will make his third start since returning from the disabled list with a strained left oblique. He struggled in his last start, allowing six runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-5 loss to San Diego on Monday.
Link to box score: St. Louis (70-39) 6 at Milwaukee (47-64) 0