MILWAUKEE -- On the day the St. Louis Cardinals found out they lost closer Jason Isringhausen for the rest of the season, Jeff Weaver gave them another solid start.
Weaver gave up two runs and five hits and struck out four in throwing six strong innings in the Cardinals' 12-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
He also drove in a run with a double in the sixth, an inning before the Cardinals scored six runs.
"He inspired our guys, and they just kept cranking and cranking, and then we broke it open," La Russa said. "I think our club followed his example. The key to our game was Jeff Weaver."
The Cardinals reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central for a third straight season to six.
Isringhausen, who has 33 saves, will have arthroscopic surgery on his arthritic left hip on Sept. 21. Isringhausen, who has 10 blown saves this season, has not pitched since Sept. 6, and did not make the trip to Milwaukee.
"He's the anchor of that bullpen out there, and it's an unfortunate situation, but we are blessed with a lot of good arms out there," Weaver (7-14) said.
The 34-year-old Isringhausen, the Cardinals' all-time saves leader, will begin physical therapy within several days of the surgery, but the team said no timetable has been set for his return. Right-handers Braden Looper and Adam Wainright are expected to handle the closer duties.
Aaron Miles had four hits and three RBI for the Cardinals, while Ronnie Belliard had three hits, including a homer, and scored four runs.
"Everybody is pitching well, and finally we got some runs early in the ballgame," Belliard said.
Ben Sheets (5-7) gave up four runs and 10 hits in six innings for Milwaukee, which has lost 18 of 24 games. Sheets fell to 4-13 in his career against St. Louis, his most losses against any opponent.
The 10 hits allowed matched a season high for Sheets, who struck out eight and walked one.
"It was a struggle," Sheets said. "It definitely wasn't good. One thing I'm happy with, I think I kept some crooked numbers off the board each inning. But it definitely wasn't one of my better performances."
The big crooked number came in the seventh, when, one night after stranding 10 runners and going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, the Cardinals sent 11 batters to the plate.
They scored six runs on four singles, three walks and an error. Five runs were off former Brewers closer Derrick Turnbow, who lasted just 1-3 of an inning. His ERA jumped to 6.71.
"We just fell apart," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It exploded on us in the seventh inning. We haven't been blown out in a lot of games this year. But the dam broke in the seventh and we couldn't contain it."
Weaver, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels on July 6, improved to 4-4 as a Cardinal. He walked none.
Miles, filling in for the injured shortstop David Eckstein, also impressed La Russa.
"That's why we're still in first place," he said. "You lose a guy like David Eckstein, and that's huge for our ball club, and we're still there because a guy like Aaron Miles comes in and plays like David Eckstein."
Bill Hall hit his 32nd home run for Milwaukee, which has averaged just 3.4 runs in its last 24 games. Hall then left the game in the seventh with back spasms after diving trying to snare a bloop single. Hall was listed as day-to-day.
- Belliard's homer was his second since being acquired from the Cleveland Indians on July 30. "I don't know," he said. "Sometimes you get lucky. I am not a power hitter, and he gave me a fastball and I put a good swing on it."
- The Brewers have surpassed their final attendance from 2005 (2,211,023) with five home games left. Attendance stands at 2,213,848, third-most in club history.
- Brewers OF Geoff Jenkins singled in the second for his 19th hit in 38 September at-bats. He had two hits.