ST. LOUIS -- With the knowledge that St. Louis acquired two veteran pitchers to bolster its starting rotation, the Milwaukee Brewers made a pre-emptive strike Friday night against the incumbent ace.
The Brewers ripped apart usually dominant right-hander Adam Wainwright in his worst showing ever against them, rolling to a 7-4 victory at Busch Stadium.
The victory assured the Brewers would leave town in first place in the NL Central, no matter how they fare against trade acquisitions Justin Masterson and John Lackey in the other two games of the series.
Wainwright entered the game with a 13-5 record and 1.92 earned run average, the second-best mark in the league. But the Brewers beat him up for nine hits and seven runs over 5 1/3 innings and cruised behind a solid performance by Wily Peralta.
Seven runs were the most runs the Brewers scored against Wainwright, matching their total for his previous three starts against him.
On the flip side, Peralta continued his 2014 dominance of the Cardinals by holding them to five hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings. In three starts this season against St. Louis, Peralta is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
Peralta's wildness in the first inning put the Cardinals in position for an early rally. He walked three hitters to load the bases, the last two coming with two outs, but escaped by getting A.J. Pierzynski to break his bat on a popup to second base.
Ramirez led off the second inning with his home run -- a drive to left-center that caromed off the top of the fence and went over. It was the first home run allowed by Wainwright in his major-league career on a 3-0 count.
Khris Davis followed by reaching on a error by third baseman Matt Carpenter and Lyle Overbay walked, with both runners moving up on Jean Segura's bunt. The Cardinals intentionally walked No. 8 hitter Elian Herrera to load the bases for Peralta.
That moved worked out unexpectedly when Peralta lined out to shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Herrera was doubled off first in a base-running blunder.
With one down in the top of the third, Jonathan Lucroy singled sharply up the middle. Wainwright struck out Ryan Braun for the second time but Ramirez sent a drive to left-center that went for an RBI double when Lucroy motored all the way around from first base.
Oscar Taveras punched a two-out double down the left-field line in the bottom of the fourth for the Cardinals but Peralta didn't flinch, getting Peter Bourjos to ground out to third to preserve the 2-0 lead.
Carlos Gomez snapped out of a 0-for-20 skid with a single to left with one out in the fifth and Lucroy followed with a walk. Ryan Braun then broke out of a 0-for-19 drought with an opposite-field, RBI double to right to make it 3-0.
Ramirez collected his third hit against Wainwright on a grounder down the third-base line that Carpenter smothered, forcing the runners to hold. With the bases loaded, Wainwright prevented the game from getting away by striking out Davis for the second time and getting Overbay to foul out.
The Brewers finally put a big number on the board against Wainwright in the sixth. Jean Segura led off with an infield hit and was called safe on a close play on Herrera's blooper into shallow center. The Cardinals challenged the play but it was denied on video review.
After Peralta bunted up the runners, Gomez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lucroy then worked the count to 3-2 and sliced a double into the right-field corner, clearing the bases to put the Brewers on top, 6-0. That was all for Wainwright, and Matheny was ejected for good measure for arguing the call at second base on Segura.
Braun greeted reliever Seth Maness with a bloop double down the right-field line to score Lucroy for a 7-0 lead.
Matt Holliday finally got the Cardinals on the board against Peralta with a leadoff homer to left in the bottom of the inning. Matt Carpenter's RBI single in the seventh made it 7-2 and chased Peralta.
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