ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter failed to prevent the St. Louis Cardinals' losing streak from reaching eight games, matching a slump they endured in June.
The 2005 NL Cy Young winner left Friday night's game with an injury to the thumb on his pitching hand that put a scare into a team already on the skids. His right thumb was swollen, although X-rays indicated no break, after a 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
"He took that ball right off the top of his thumb and he's got quite a bit of swelling," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's the bigger issue, even above losing the game."
Prince Fielder went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and Tony Graffanino had three hits and an RBI to help the Brewers beat Carpenter, who was on the mound the night the Cardinals stopped their earlier eight-game skid.
La Russa was somewhat consoled by the fact his team shaved an early three-run deficit to one. The Cardinals lost 8-1 to Philadelphia on Thursday, but missed an opportunity to end the slump by going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Friday.
"What's better, going 1-2-3 and out like we've been doing or having a chance to drive some in?" La Russa said. "I'd take getting them on base and getting a few home."
Doug Davis (7-6) worked into the sixth and Dan Kolb rescued him from a bases loaded jam to end that inning. Francisco Cordero got the last three outs for his third save in as many chances with Milwaukee, which has won four of six.
"I'm not really ever worried about the other team, really," Fielder said. "I just worry about our team. If we do things right, it really doesn't matter what they do."
Juan Encarnacion had two hits and two RBI, David Eckstein had two hits and his first RBI since July 7 and Scott Rolen doubled and tripled for the Cardinals. The NL Central leaders were swept in three-game series by two sub-.500 teams, the Phillies and Cubs, before falling to another team with a losing record on Friday.
The Cardinals have been outscored 54-29 during the slump, and their division lead was shaved to 2½ games over Cincinnati. In the first seven losses, the Cardinals lost only one game off their lead.
Davis allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and four walks, and is 2-0 in his last five outings, raising his career record to 58-58. All four walks were of the Cardinals' seventh- and eighth-place hitters, two each to Ronnie Belliard and Yadier Molina.
Carpenter (10-6) needed only 65 pitches to get through six innings. The Brewers bunched three of their seven hits against him in a three-run third highlighted by Fielder's two-run homer. They had two hits and Kevin Mench's sacrifice fly in the sixth for a 4-2 lead.
Graffanino had an RBI single in the third, singled and scored on Mench's sacrifice fly in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.
Carpenter was hurt with two outs in the sixth when he tried to block Bill Hall's high chopper with his glove and missed, instead taking the ball off his right thumb. Hall was retired after shortstop Eckstein played the carom and threw him out. Carpenter stayed in the game after consulting with trainer Barry Weinberg, striking out Geoff Jenkins to end the inning.
Rolen tripled and scored on Encarnacion's infield hit in the sixth to cut the deficit to one, and Carpenter was taken out for pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio with the bases loaded and two outs. Kolb, pitching for the first time in nine days, got Spiezio on a pop-up to shortstop.
"I owe him dinner, at least," Davis said. "With all my runs out there, he came in and got the job done. You can't ask for anything more than that."
Carpenter said he probably couldn't have worked the seventh, in any case.
"I don't know, I was going to go out and try," Carpenter said. "But the way it feels right now, I'm saying probably not."
Of Fielder's 21 homers, 17 have come with the bases empty and four with one on. ... Spiezio is 3-for-24 as a pinch hitter with one homer and three RBI. ... Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, who entered the game a combined 12-for-32 against Davis with four homers, got one hit in six at-bats against the left-hander. Pujols doubled leading off the fourth. ... The Brewers improved to 20-34 on the road, second-worst in the majors. ... The last time the Cardinals had two losing streaks of eight or more games was in 1983, when they dropped eight in a row twice.