MILWAUKEE -- After Seung Hwan Oh made his game-saving stand, so, too, did the Cardinals' offense. Taking advantage of the extra inning Oh's scoreless ninth bought them, the Cardinals pounced on Brewers reliever Corey Knebel to nab a 2-1 victory and extend their cushion in the National League Wild Card race.
Jhonny Peralta, hitless on the night, opened the 10th with a single and scooted to third on Yadier Molina's timely 300th-career double. An RBI single by Randal Grichuk, who had stung Knebel for a game-tying homer one night earlier, positioned the Cardinals for their 11th win in 14 games against the Brewers this season.
It came after the Marlins and Pirates had already lost, thereby bumping the Cardinals' lead over both for the NL's second Wild Card spot to 2 1/2 games.
"That one certainly wasn't an easy one," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We just need to keep getting accustomed to not having easy spots, because nothing has been easy about this [season], and nothing is going to be the rest of the way. To watch guys be able to stay in the moment and just compete pitch by pitch and not get caught up in anything else is a great sign."
The Brewers, who came within 90 feet of a victory, instead dropped their sixth straight to match a season-high losing skid. After a pair of two-out singles to extend the ninth, Chris Carter worked the count full against Oh. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made a mound visit with Korean interpreter Eugene Koo, and Oh responded by striking out the Brewers slugger on the seventh pitch of the at-bat to end the threat.
Milwaukee made things interesting again in the 10th by moving the potential tying run to third with one out against reliever Matt Bowman. But Bowman notched a strikeout, and Zach Duke followed with another to lock down the win.
"It was a tough loss," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We had a well-pitched game. Both sides pitched very well. We had chances again. We were a play away a bunch of these games during the losing streak. But you have to make those plays."
Before the game became a battle between bullpens, starters Adam Wainwright and Wily Peralta turned in eerily similar and equally effective performances. Each retired the first nine batters faced before giving up a leadoff single in the fourth. Both also finished seven innings with three hits allowed and gave up their lone runs in the sixth.
Jedd Gyorko connected for his fourth homer in six games to give the Cardinals a short-lived lead against Peralta. The Brewers answered back with back-to-back doubles by Keon Broxton and Martin Maldonado.
Peralta finished with 10 strikeouts to notch the second double-digit strikeout game of his career and set a new season high. Wainwright, pitching on his 35th birthday, fanned seven in a much-needed bounceback performance, having entered the night allowing a career-high 25 runs this month.
"The version of me that was pitching earlier this year and in that last start, that's not me," said Wainwright, who credited being more aggressive with his delivery as the key to turning things around. "I'm much better than that. Tonight was more of what you're going to see going forward."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED In the record books: Gyorko's sixth-inning solo homer plated the game's first run and also added a line to the Cardinals' record books. With it, the Cardinals have homered in 19 consecutive games, matching a franchise record set in 2006. The club has connected for 39 homers during that stretch, with Gyorko hitting nine of them. Gyorko ranks second in the National League with his 10 home runs this month.
"These close games, every swing matters," said Gyorko, who established a career high with his 24th home run. "I feel pretty good. I just have to keep it going." More >
Stranded: Just minutes before the Cardinals jumped in front on Grichuk's RBI single, the Brewers had the winning run 90 feet away from scoring. Ryan Braun lined a two-out infield single that deflected off Oh and advanced to third on Hernan Perez's single one batter later. Carter worked the count full before swinging through an Oh fastball to end the inning.
"We had a chance in the 10th," Counsell said. "We had a chance to win it. That was probably our best scoring opportunity of the day. We had some other opportunities. Both teams had limited opportunities. Keeping them to one run in the 10th really gave us a chance. They had a chance to tack a run on there and didn't. Both sides were unable to put that run across when they needed to."
Double your pleasure: The Brewers responded to Gyorko's second homer of the series immediately against Wainwright. Broxton snapped a 1-for-21 funk on the homestand by leading off the sixth with a double to right field for the team's second hit of the game, and Maldonado followed by sneaking a Wainwright cutter down the left-field line for a game-tying double.
We meet again: There's no one Wainwright has faced more times in his career than Braun, who entered the night 16-for-79 against the St. Louis ace. With two runners on base and two out, Braun extended Wainwright in a 10-pitch battle in the sixth. It was a matchup that Wainwright eventually won, though, retiring Braun on pitch No. 10 with a curveball that forced a ground ball to the shortstop.
"I was thinking about the [Yoenis] Cespedes at-bat. I was not going to let that happen again," said Wainwright, referring to the home run Cespedes hit to cap a nine-pitch at-bat against him in July. "I kept saying that when I was on the mound today. The theme for me tonight was just winning one fight at a time over and over and over again."
"That was just epic," added Matheny. "That's just strength on strength." More >
"The peanut butter and jelly sandwich I eat right before the game every time, I usually mix the peanut butter and the jelly. I didn't mix the peanut butter and the jelly. And I always use strawberry the day I pitch. [Today], I used grape." -- Wainwright, on one of the many routines he changed in an effort to change his luck
"Since I've come back, I've been able to put myself together and execute the pitches when I want to. That's been paying off for me." Peralta, who has a 3.00 ERA with 27 strikeouts and four walks since being recalled from Triple-A
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time Peralta threw seven or more innings in a game was exactly one year ago: Aug. 30, 2015. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals will close out their final trip to Milwaukee, as rookie Luke Weaver makes his fourth career start on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT. Weaver earned his first big league win his last time out and set career highs with six innings pitched and seven strikeouts.
Brewers: A 10-game homestand comes to a close as right-hander Matt Garza gets the start for the Crew against the Cardinals on Wednesday. Garza faced St. Louis once this season, giving up seven runs (four earned) over 5 1/3 innings on July 1.