Brewers master Cards during sweep
Looper beats former team; Gamel hits first career homer
ST. LOUIS -- Hours after learning that second baseman Rickie Weeks would miss the rest of the season with an injured left wrist, Milwaukee won its sixth game in a row and extended its lead in the National League Central to two games with an 8-4 win over St. Louis on Monday night at Busch Stadium.
In his first start against his former team, Braden Looper tossed the Brewers' Major League-leading 24th quality start, hurling six-plus innings and giving up just one earned run. His lone blemish was a two-run home run by the Cardinals' Colby Rasmus in the seventh inning.
Looper, who is 20-13 with a 3.57 ERA in 73 career games at Busch Stadium, combined with fellow former Redbird Jeff Suppan, who threw seven shutout innings on Saturday, to help the Brewers sweep the three-game series and win for the 20th time in their past 25 games after a 4-9 start.
"We have a good team," Looper said. "Obviously, it hurts losing Rickie, because you don't want to lose an everyday player. But we called up Mat Gamel and he had a nice game today, so maybe he will play more now. Who knows what will happen, but we have a good team and we just have to keep going."
Gamel, who made his first career start on Monday, also hit his first career home run -- a three-run shot to right in the third that made it 4-0 for the Brewers. Gamel was appearing in just his fifth career game after he was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Thursday.
"It's unbelievable," Gamel said. "I'm really at a loss for words. I'm just excited and glad that I contributed to help this team win the game.
The rookie third baseman was known as a subpar defensive player during his time in the Minor Leagues, but he flashed some leather in the fifth, when he stole a hit from Brian Barden with a diving stop to his right. But he committed a throwing error in the seventh, when he threw wildly to Prince Fielder at first base on a ground ball.
"He had some firsts," said Brewers manager Ken Macha. "His first homer, his first Major League start, his first error and my first gray hair."
Catcher Jason Kendall joined the 2,000-hit club with a one-out single in the second inning off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse. Kendall, who also had an RBI single in the fifth, became the eighth catcher with at least 1,000 games played to reach the 2,000-hit mark.
|"He had some firsts. His first homer, his first Major League start, his first error and my first gray hair."|
|-- Brewers manager Ken Macha, on Mat Gamel|
Ryan Braun was 2-for-3 and scored four of the Brewers eight runs. He also made two diving catches, including a sprawling full-extension diving catch in the left-field corner in the third inning to rob the Cardinals' Skip Schumaker of an extra-base hit.
Cardinals pitchers walked Brewers hitters 22 times in the three-game series, including 11 free passes on Monday night. Four of the Brewers eight runs reached base via a base on balls. Fielder walked four times for the first time since April of last year, when he did it at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals.
"We continue to be patient at the plate," said Macha. "And it continues to pay off."
The Brewers are now 9-3 at Busch Stadium over the past two years, including taking nine of the last 10 against their division rival in St. Louis.
"We'll see about the next series [against the Cardinals], but this series, we played well," Looper said. "'Soup' pitched a great game and kind of got it started off that first game, and the guys put some runs on the board the last couple of nights. I don't know if it's dominance, but we're playing well right now. We played well against them, and we just want to continue playing well."
Craig Counsell started at second base in place of Weeks and went 1-for-6. He will share time with rookie Casey McGehee, as the Brewers look for a long-term replacement at second base.
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.