MILWAUKEE -- Randal Grichuk's three-run home run capped the Cardinals' six-run fifth inning in a 6-0 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Friday night.
That outburst, at the expense of rookie right-hander Tyler Cravy, made a winner of starter Lance Lynn, who scattered six hits in six scoreless innings to lower his ERA after 21 starts to 2.76. When Carlos Villanueva worked the final three innings and was awarded his second save, the Cardinals finished their 12th shutout of the season -- second in a row -- and lowered their best-in-baseball staff ERA to 2.60.
"It's impressive," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "What's impressive is you look at them, and then you look at who's behind them [the Pirates with a 3.18 ERA] and there's a gap. You know going in it's going to be a low-scoring game for you to win."
Rejoining the Brewers' rotation as a replacement for struggling veteran Kyle Lohse, Cravy kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard until the fifth inning, when St. Louis sent nine men to the plate and tallied six runs on five hits, including four for extra bases.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Triple-double: Both teams were scoreless through four innings, but the Cardinals changed that to begin the fifth. Brandon Moss led off with a double to right field off Cravy and Stephen Piscotty followed with one of his own to left, scoring Moss. After Lynn struck out looking, Matt Carpenter capped off an eight-pitch at-bat with his 28th double of the season that one-hopped the right-field wall and plated Piscotty.
Stranded: The Brewers had their chances against Lynn beginning in the first inning, when Khris Davis -- who hit a pair of three-run home runs in a rout of the Padres a day earlier -- stepped to the plate with two men aboard and two outs. Davis struck out swinging, and the Brewers went on to strand two runners on base in three of the first four innings.
"I didn't think [Lynn] was sharp right off the bat," Counsell said. "We had some rallies, but you're not going to get a ton of opportunities against him. We weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities that we had."
Adding on: The Cardinals weren't done in the fifth. Cravy walked Kolten Wong and Jason Heyward drove Carpenter in with a single to center. Grichuk doubled the Cardinals' tally for the inning with a three-run homer in the next at-bat. Grichuk tops all Major League rookies with 41 extra-base hits.
"The ball comes off his bat differently," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Grichuk. "He doesn't need to try and put extra into it, it just jumps for him."
New role: Lohse got into the game in the eighth inning for his first relief appearance since Sept. 8, 2009, when he pitched for the Cardinals against the Brewers here at Miller Park. He pitched two scoreless innings, aided by shortstop Jean Segura's sensational defensive play for the second out of the ninth inning. More >
"I just start aiming down the middle and hope for the best, really. You let the movement work and I knew I had good velocity, so when runners got on I tried to get ahead. It worked." -- Lynn, on his lack of fastball command
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The Cardinals have not allowed a run since the fourth inning of Wednesday's 13-inning win over the Reds and are putting together an historic season on the mound. No staff has finished a season with a lower ERA than the Cardinals' current mark (2.60) since 1972, when the Orioles led baseball with a 2.53 ERA, and the A's were next at 2.58.
The Cardinals challenged a call of safe in the second inning and won. With runners on first and third, Cravy was ruled safe on a close play at first after the pitcher attempted to sacrifice Elian Herrera to second with a bunt. After a short review, the call was overturned and Lynn escaped the inning by inducing a pop out from Scooter Gennett in the next at-bat.
The umpires went back to the headset in the seventh after Carpenter hit Neal Cotts' first pitch of the inning off the top of the center-field wall. Carpenter's second hit of the game bounced off the yellow portion of the wall and didn't connect with the batter's eye. The hit, which was ruled a double on the field, was confirmed after review.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: St. Louis has been shut out in four of Jaime Garcia's (3-4, 1.98 ERA) nine starts this season and has scored 20 runs total during games the lefty has started. They'll look to buck that trend on Saturday at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CT.
Brewers:Wily Peralta (2-6, 4.55 ERA) has had one good start and one poor start since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list. He'll try to get back into the win column when the series continues Saturday night against a Cardinals team that has given Peralta some trouble, He owns a 4.43 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis and is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA against the Cards this season.