MILWAUKEE -- Another day, another shutout for baseball's best pitching staff.
With a 3-0 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday night, the Cardinals posted their third straight shutout, extended their scoreless streak to 36 innings and lowered the best staff ERA in Major League Baseball to a miniscule 2.58.
Asked whether the St. Louis pitching staff is on a different level, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, "Right now, it is. It's two games, but they've pitched well."
The Cardinals led throughout. Matt Carpenter led off the game by hitting a full-count fastball from Brewers starter Wily Peralta for a home run, and rookie left fielder Stephen Piscotty hit a pair of RBI singles. Peralta's third start off a two-month stint on the disabled list was a quality one, but he took the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Matt the bat: Carpenter's first-inning shot to the Brewers' bullpen was his eighth career leadoff homer and fourth this season. Carpenter now has extra-base hits in each of his last five games and he leads the National League in that category since the All-Star break with 15.
"That sets the tone," Piscotty said of Carpenter's homer. "He got to a full count and took a good swing, drove it out to the deep part of the yard. That just sets the tone."
Bailed out: Peralta surrendered another Cardinals run in the second inning before settling in. He retired 14 consecutive batters from the third out of the second inning through the first out of the seventh before Randal Grichuk smacked a single. Grichuk eventually scored, but Brewers left fielder Khris Davis helped Peralta escape by making a diving catch to end the inning.
"I threw better than the last time," said Peralta. "After the second inning I started feeling better with my breathing and commanding my offspeed pitches. I had a pretty good feel with the changeup after that."
Piscotty delivers: Piscotty plated two runs for the Cardinals with singles to right field in both the second and seventh innings. The rookie is batting .333 (18-for-54) with eight RBIs since being called up from Triple-A Memphis on July 21 and has three RBI hits this series. More >
"He's just taking consistent at-bats," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Those are two big hits for us, both of them with runners in scoring position and two outs. He's taking advantage of a very consistent approach."
"To be honest with you, I'm not a strikeout guy. I don't try to strike out guys. Getting grounders and keeping the ball down is my main thing, but I was able to get strikeouts. My philosophy of pitching is getting quick outs to avoid deep counts. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do that the last couple of games, but I've still got the job done." -- Garcia, on his pitching philosophy and Saturday's performance
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals, who haven't surrendered a run since the fourth inning of Wednesday's 13-inning win over the Reds, can match a single-season franchise record for consecutive shutouts by blanking the Brewers on Sunday. The 1943 Cardinals logged four in a row from July 6-11.
Ryan Braun mashes left-handers (.334 career average against them), but Garcia is an exception. Including three outs Saturday, two of which ended innings, Braun is 8-for-42 (.190) lifetime against Garcia
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals:John Lackey (9-7, 2.85 ERA) is set to toe the rubber for St. Louis in the series finale against the Brewers. He's racked up 10 straight quality starts, posting a 1.91 ERA during the stretch. Lackey has allowed three or fewer runs in all but three of his 22 starts this season, which includes two victories over Milwaukee. The game is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.
Brewers:Jimmy Nelson (9-9, 3.57 ERA) rides a streak of five consecutive quality starts and 20 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run into Sunday's game. But Nelson is 0-4 with a 10.43 ERA in four career games against St. Louis, including a 7-4 loss at Busch Stadium on June 3 in which he surrendered seven runs.