|St. Louis «||0||2||1||0||5||0||2||0||x||10||13||1|
ST. LOUIS -- When the Busch Stadium organist began playing the "Tomahawk Chop" ditty Friday night, the St. Louis Cardinals knew it was good news: The Houston Astros had finally lost.
Then the Cardinals handled things from their end in a 10-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, getting Jeff Weaver's first win in nine home starts and home runs from Albert Pujols and Preston Wilson.
"I don't think you'll hear the Braves chant going too often here," Weaver said. "But it was nice to hear, and a big swing for us."
St. Louis (82-77) increased its division lead to 1½ games over second-place Houston (81-79), which lost 4-1 at Atlanta. The Cardinals had a seven-game lead with 12 games to go but wasted nearly all of it by losing eight of nine.
The Cardinals cut their magic number to two for clinching a third straight NL Central title. After two more games with the Brewers, the Cardinals would host San Francisco on Monday in the makeup of a Sept. 17 rainout if it's needed to decide the division.
Fans were doing the tomahawk chop while keeping track of the two games, although manager Tony La Russa said he wasn't aware that the Astros had lost until he heard the familiar chords.
"I thought that was really a good touch. Very smart," La Russa said. "And our fans enjoyed it."
Now La Russa wants his team to get the division clinched.
"What we've got to make sure we do is what we've had trouble doing: keeping our eye on the finish line and backing up solid games," La Russa said. "That's an important two-step, but we've got to make sure nothing's different about our game tomorrow."
Wilson hit a two-run homer in the second and Pujols added a three-run drive in a five-run fifth as St. Louis built an 8-1 lead against Chris Capuano (11-12). Wilson has been 1-for-13 against Capuano.
"He's pretty much handled me," Wilson said.
Juan Encarnacion had four hits and Scott Rolen three. Cardinals leadoff hitter David Eckstein returned after missing four starts with a strained left hamstring. Eckstein, who was not in the original lineup, was 1-for-3 with an infield hit before leaving for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Weaver (5-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, working out of trouble in the first, second and fourth innings. He had been 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA at home. Although he has an 8.13 ERA in his last five starts overall, Weaver is 3-0 in that span.
"This is what we play the whole season for, to be in a situation like this," Weaver said. "Everything turned out great."
Capuano (11-12) gave up eight runs -- six earned -- and seven hits in five innings, dropping 0-4 with a 5.93 ERA in his last seven starts.
"Definitely not the way I'd like to finish the season, especially the last two games with the team scoring a lot of runs and playing well behind me," Capuano said. "That's a tough thing to take on into the offseason."
Geoff Jenkins put Milwaukee ahead with an RBI single in the first, but Wilson's homer gave St. Louis the lead for good and Pujols' 48th homer -- his second three-run drive in three days -- made it 8-1.
Corey Hart hit a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth, and Prince Fielder and Bill Hall hit consecutive homers in the eighth off Randy Flores. Hall is 17-for-32 with four homers and 10 RBI in his last nine games.
|Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver receives plenty of run support in picking up his eighth win. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Anthony Gwynn, CF||5||0||0||0||0||1||1||.265|
|Tony Graffanino, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.280|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||4||1||1||1||0||0||1||.270|
|Bill Hall, SS||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.274|
|Geoff Jenkins, RF||3||1||1||1||1||1||0||.264|
|Corey Hart, LF||4||1||2||2||0||0||2||.284|
|David Bell, 3B||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.272|
|Dennis Sarfate, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Dan Kolb, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Gabe Gross, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.274|
|Derrick Turnbow, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Rivera, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.263|
|Chris Capuano, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.118|
|Jeff Cirillo, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.317|
|a-lined out for Kolb in the 8th|
|HR - Prince Fielder (27, Flores), Bill Hall (35, Flores), Corey Hart (9, Weaver)|
|RBI - Prince Fielder (79), Bill Hall (85), Geoff Jenkins (69), Corey Hart 2 (33)|
|2-OUT RBI - Geoff Jenkins (29), Corey Hart 2 (19)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|E - David Bell (19, Misplayed grounder)|
|Chris Capuano (L,11-12)||5||7||8||6||3||2||2||4.03|
|IBB - Pr. Wilson by Chris Capuano|
|HBP - Eckstein (by Chris Capuano)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Capuano 88-50, Dennis Sarfate 25-16, Dan Kolb 3-2, Derrick Turnbow 25-14|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Capuano 9-5, Dennis Sarfate 1-2, Dan Kolb 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Chris Capuano 27, Dennis Sarfate 8, Dan Kolb 2, Derrick Turnbow 5|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.292|
|a- Aaron Miles, PH-SS||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.265|
|So Taguchi, CF||3||2||0||0||0||0||2||.266|
|b- Jim Edmonds, PH-CF||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.259|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||1||1||3||1||0||0||.328|
|Juan Encarnacion, RF||5||2||4||1||0||0||0||.280|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||5||3||3||1||0||0||2||.297|
|Ronnie Belliard, 2B||5||0||1||1||0||3||4||.275|
|Preston Wilson, LF||3||1||1||2||1||0||2||.262|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||2||2||0||0||0||.218|
|Jeff Weaver, P||2||1||0||0||1||0||2||.133|
|Josh Kinney, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- John Rodriguez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.304|
|Randy Flores, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Braden Looper, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.500|
|Brad Thompson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.500|
|a-grounded out for Eckstein in the 7th|
|b-struck out for Taguchi in the 6th|
|c-flied out for Kinney in the 7th|
|2B - Juan Encarnacion (25, Capuano), Scott Rolen (47, Capuano), Ronnie Belliard (30, Sarfate)|
|HR - Albert Pujols (48, Capuano), Preston Wilson (17, Capuano)|
|RBI - Albert Pujols 3 (136), Juan Encarnacion (79), Scott Rolen (95), Ronnie Belliard (67), Preston Wilson 2 (72), Yadier Molina 2 (49)|
|2-OUT RBI - Juan Encarnacion (37), Preston Wilson 2 (31), Yadier Molina (25)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Belliard-Eckstein-Pujols, Belliard-Eckstein|
|E - So Taguchi (6, Dropped fly)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jeff Weaver (W,8-14)||5.2||7||3||3||1||2||1||5.76|
|HBP - Bell (by Jeff Weaver)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Weaver 105-64, Josh Kinney 17-11, Randy Flores 13-9, Braden Looper 8-4, Brad Thompson 12-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Weaver 5-9, Josh Kinney 1-1, Brad Thompson 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jeff Weaver 25, Josh Kinney 4, Randy Flores 3, Braden Looper 2, Brad Thompson 3|
|Attendance - 41718|
|Game Time - 2:56|
|Temperature - 64|
|Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Tim Timmons, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Jeff Nelson|