ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers' hottest hitter in Spring Training finally found the outfield seats in the regular season.
Jesus Aguilar's go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning sent the Brewers to a 5-4 win over the injury-depleted Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Thursday night and sealed a rain-shortened series victory -- Milwaukee's first over St. Louis in more than three years. Keon Broxton paced Milwaukee's offense with four hits, including an RBI double that tied it in the third and a solo homer that tied it again in the fifth.
Aguilar's home run was the first of his Major League career, but the Brewers are used to seeing him hit baseballs over the wall. Aguilar won an Opening Day roster spot by leading the team with seven homers during Spring Training, though he cooled in April once Eric Thames claimed control of first base. Aguilar had been hitless in his previous sporadic 21 at-bats before delivering a pinch-hit single on Tuesday.
"It was a beautiful spot for it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the homer. "That was the most excited I've seen our team all year. He's been a good teammate to a lot of guys."
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Aguilar was stuffed in a laundry cart and rolled into the showers for the traditional celebration of a first career hit or home run. Aguilar was doused with everything from hot sauce to shampoo to a can of beans while teammates danced and chanted around him.
"The most important part is we got a win," Aguilar said. "I put a good swing on it, and right away, I knew it was out of here. I just haven't been able to stop smiling since then."
The Cardinals lost two-thirds of their starting outfield by the third inning, as Stephen Piscotty departed with an injured hamstring and Dexter Fowler left with right shoulder pain. They then watched Adam Wainwright endure a rare dud against the Brewers, who scored more than three earned runs against Wainwright for the first time in their last 10 matchups against the right-hander.
Wainwright surrendered four runs on 10 hits in five innings, with much of the damage -- four hits and two walks, one of which was intentional -- coming in a three-run third highlighted by run-scoring doubles by Travis Shaw and Broxton that both bounced on the left-field chalk line.
"It's another disappointing outing from my standpoint," Wainwright said. "The offense did a great job getting me a lead. That third inning, look at the way they scored the runs. The two balls that hit the line scored all three runs. That's the way baseball goes sometimes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Thorn in Waino's side: Wainwright has had much success against the Brewers, but not so much against Broxton, who singled in the second inning, doubled home a run in the third and smacked a solo home run in the fifth to improve to 7-for-9 with a pair of homers against the Cardinals right-hander. Broxton's homer was his first since April 11 in Toronto, but he has been heating up at the plate. Including Thursday's 4-for-5 effort, he is 13-for-35 (.371) over his last 11 games.
"I think he's just one of those guys I have timed up very well," said Broxton. "I think a lot of guys in this clubhouse have at least one [opposing pitcher] they just have timed up and see the ball well off of." More >
Missed chances: Each team left a small army of men on the bases, including eight runners apiece in scoring position and three runners apiece at third base. A half-inning after Aguilar's homer gave Milwaukee the lead, the Cardinals quickly put the tying runner at third with two outs, when Aledmys Diaz bunted for a single and scooted to third on reliever Carlos Torres' throwing error. Up stepped Kolten Wong, who already had three hits in the game, and had delivered tying- or go-ahead infield hits in each of the first two games of the series. Wong hit another ball on the ground, but Thames gloved it at first and went to the bag for the inning-ending out.
"Guys got big outs," Counsell said, praising the five Brewers relievers who combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings, including winning pitcher Oliver Drake. "Both teams had traffic the whole game."
Piscotty, Fowler make marks: It was a short but productive night for both Piscotty and Fowler. In the top of the second, a half-inning before exiting, Piscotty threw out Broxton at home plate to end the inning. Moments before Piscotty's last at-bat, Fowler yanked a two-out, two-run triple to cap the Cardinals' three-run outburst against Brewers starter Chase Anderson. Fowler, who injured his shoulder while diving in left-center field for Hernan Perez's double, left after the third.
"Dexter's still getting his evaluation," Matheny said after the game. "He's on the tube right now getting tested, so we don't know. A right shoulder injury is what we do know, from the dive in center. Stephen is a right hamstring. We're going to leave him here overnight to be seen by our medical team tomorrow to put a better plan together." More >
"My mom." -- Aguilar, when asked who would get his home run ball. Brewers relievers negotiated for its rights with the fan who had caught the baseball above the visitors' bullpen.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Brewers had not won a series against the Cardinals, home or away, since taking two of three games at Busch Stadium from April 28-30, 2014. The Brewers were 0-15-2 in their past 17 series against the Cardinals before breaking through this week.
"It's awesome for our confidence," Broxton said. "I think it's making a statement around the league that we're not as bad as people think we are."
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Originally scheduled to start on Thursday in St. Louis, Jimmy Nelson will instead pitch on Friday in Pittsburgh -- weather permitting, of course. The extra day was probably not a bad thing, especially considering Nelson is 0-8 with a 7.09 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance in his career against the Cardinals, and 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 10 starts against the Pirates. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Cardinals: Right-hander Lance Lynn will be looking to win his fourth consecutive start when he opens a three-game series against the Braves on Friday at 6:35 p.m. CT in Atlanta. He is 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts against the Braves.