Improving Brewers split series with Cards

Friday, July 22, 2005

Milwaukee banged out 14 hits in a 12-7 victory over St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS -- The Milwaukee Brewers are looking like a team on the upswing.

Their four-game split with the St. Louis Cardinals was their third straight solid showing against a contender, after taking three of four from Washington and two of three at Atlanta.

Geoff Jenkins had three hits and three RBIs to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games and the Brewers capitalized on shoddy defense Thursday in a 12-7 victory.

"Obviously, this is a great squad, the record speaks for itself," Jenkins said of the Cardinals. "We've been playing pretty good baseball ourselves."

The Brewers' 14-hit effort that chased Jason Marquis in the fifth inning featured RBI singles from starter Chris Capuano and reliever Matt Wise, the latter coming on his first career hit. Milwaukee is 5-3 since the All-Star break after collapsing in the second half last year, and improved to 3-7 against the Cardinals.

Albert Pujols had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, although his run of homering in three straight games ended. Pujols is batting .462 (18-for-39) against the Brewers with five homers and 14 RBIs.

Capuano (11-6) pitched into the sixth in 94-degree heat at game time that rose to 97 and Russell Branyan homered off the right-field scoreboard, a drive estimated at 458 feet. Capuano, who gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings, beat a patchwork Cardinals lineup minus rested starters Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker and David Eckstein, and with 6-7-8 hitters that had totaled two RBIs on the year.

He said his biggest opponent was the heat and high humidity.

"That's the first time in my career that I honestly felt weak because of the elements," Capuano said. "It was so hot towards the end that I was getting a little light-headed."

Jenkins said it was tough for the fielders, too.

"It was kind of one of those days where almost whichever team could keep the other team on their feet longer might outlast them," Jenkins said. "I think that's all it was, we just made them stay out there longer."

Mike Mahoney, who batted eighth, singled and drove in his first three runs of the season. Hector Luna had a two-run double in the ninth.

Jenkins, who kept his streak alive with a pinch-hit single on Wednesday, had RBI singles in the third and fifth and hit his 12th homer in the eighth on his 31st birthday. He is batting .451 (23-for-51) during the streak.

"Obviously, I'd like to do that on any day," Jenkins said. "I'm sure mom will be real happy when she calls."

Marquis (9-7) lasted four-plus innings, tied for his second-shortest outing of the year, after working 23 innings in his previous three starts. His highlight was a run-scoring single in the fourth that gave him a .360 average and eight RBIs, both highs in the NL for pitchers.

"I don't think the heat played a factor in my pitching," Marquis said. "I just made some bad pitches."

Third baseman Scott Rolen's throwing error helped the Brewers score twice in the first. With Rickie Weeks breaking for home on Lyle Overbay's grounder, Rolen's high throw to the plate eluded Mahoney.

A throwing error by shortstop Abraham Nunez opened the door for two more unearned runs in the third that put the Brewers, who got an RBI single from Jenkins, ahead 4-0. Nunez also made an ill-advised throw to the plate on Overbay's run-scoring groundout.

But manager Tony La Russa wasn't blaming the defense.

"You mean the same defense that turned five double plays?" La Russa said. "It was a couple of plays. Our defense played today."

Capuano drove in his fifth run of the year in the fourth for a 5-0 lead before the Cardinals rallied in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single by Mahoney and Marquis' run-scoring single.

The Brewers answered with three more in the fifth to chase Marquis, including Jenkins' second RBI single and Branyan's ninth homer. Milwaukee scored three more in the seventh with J.J. Hardy, Wise and Brady Clark each getting an RBI.

Notes: Marquis' outing ended a run of 13 straight starts by Cardinals starters allowing three or fewer runs. The rotation was 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA in that span. ... Pujols is 5-for-9 against Capuano. ... Capuano has 10 of the Brewers' major league-best 17 pickoffs, but he also was called for his third balk in the third. ... Capuano leads the major leagues with eight road victories.

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