Cards avoid sweep

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Milwaukee remained two games back in the NL Central.

MILWAUKEE -- Time is running out on the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers wasted a chance to cut their NL Central deficit to one game, giving up a first-inning home run to Albert Pujols in a testy 7-3 loss Wednesday night to the St. Louis Cardinals that saw two more hit batters and a pair of ejections.

Chicago maintained a two-game division lead with four games to play despite a 7-4 loss at the Florida Marlins. Milwaukee starts a season-ending four-game series today at home against San Diego.

A night after Jeff Suppan threw a high, inside pitch at Pujols, causing St. Louis manager Tony La Russa and Brewers manager Ned Yost to exchange heated words, there was more inside pitching.

Both benches were warned about throwing at each other in the second inning after Brad Thompson (8-6) plunked Prince Fielder on the right shoulder with a high fastball. Fielder got up and stared at the Cardinals dugout while plate umpire Tom Hallion walked him all the way down to first before issuing his warnings.

In the eighth, Pujols was plunked on the elbow by Brewers reliever Seth McClung, who was ejected along with Yost.

Pujols' homer, which gave him 100 RBIs for the seventh straight season, set an early tone but Ryan Braun's two-run double put Milwaukee ahead in the second. St. Louis then went ahead to stay in the third when Ryan Ludwick doubled off Carlos Villanueva (8-5) following an intentional walk to Pujols.

Villanueva never looked comfortable in six innings, allowing three runs, five hits and four walks. St. Louis, already eliminated from contention, blew open the game with four runs in the eighth.

Milwaukee used five relievers in the eighth as the game, and perhaps the season, slipped away.

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