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The St. Louis Cardinals saw their lead in the race for the National League's second wildcard spot shrink to a half game Saturday night as the Milwaukee Brewers won 6-3 at Busch Stadium.
The Brewers, who won a 13 inning game that went past 2 a.m. Saturday, jumped on Cards starter Jake Westbrook (13-11) with two runs in the top of the 2nd inning. Westbrook walked three batters in the inning and allowed three hits, including an RBI single by starting pitcher Mike Fiers (9-7).
In the bottom of the 2nd, David Freese doubled with one out, then Daniel Descalso's base hit with two out cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Milwaukee went ahead 3-1 in the 3rd, getting three more hits off Westbrook, then made it 4-1 in the 7th inning when second baseman Rickie Weeks hit a home run to left-center field.
A couple of September callups gave a lift to the Cardinals offense in the bottom of the 7th as backup catcher Bryan Anderson came off the bench for a pinch hit single and scored on Adron Chambers triple to right. Chambers was left at third as Matt Holliday struck out and Allen Craig flied to center, keeping the score 4-2.
The Cardinals cut the lead to 4-3 the next inning on Skip Schumaker's sacrifice fly, but the Brewers put it away in the 9th with two runs on four hits, including a home run by veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
John Axford allowed only a walk in the bottom of the 9th to earn his 27th save of the season and his second in less than 24 hours.
To add injury to insult, two Cardinals in the starting lineup had to leave the game, one with a fluke injury. Matt Carpenter, who started in right field Saturday night, was removed in the bottom of the 3rd inning after getting a base hit. Carpenter's bat shattered on the swing, and as he got to first base, he was bleeding from both hands. The cuts were superficial in nature, and the Cardinals say Carpenter is expected to be available for Sunday's game.
Carpenter says he knew something felt funny, but didn't realize what happened until he got to first base and saw he had blood on his uniform pants. "I had five lacerations and I was bleeding like crazy. It took a chunk of tissue out of this middle finger. He (manager Mike Matheny) took me out of there because he was concerned I was going to need stitches on a couple of them. The good news is they could glue the piece that was hanging off. It will definitely hurt, but I could have played. I could have stayed in if we had gotten it taken care of. I think I'll be fine tomorrow."
Carpenter was asked if he's ever seen anything like that happen. "I've broken a million bats but nothing ever remotely close to that happening. That was crazy. I was told the bat flew and hit somebody too, so one bat took out two people in the same game."
Freese was pulled after the 7th inning, suffering from a mild left ankle sprain. He expects to sit out Sunday's game but be ready when the Cardinals travel to San Diego early next week. "I got x-rays and it was fine," Freese said. "Everything is intact. I won't be in there tomorrow, but it's just sore. Everything looks good."
The Cardinals will try to salvage the final game of the series Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium as Joe Kelly (5-6, 3.54 ERA) goes to the mound against Missouri State University product Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.53 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:15.
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