ST. LOUIS -- The Milwaukee Brewers' NL Central lead is nearly gone after another terrible week on the road.
On Saturday, the Cardinals came back from six down in a 7-6 victory in a doubleheader opener.
"Those are timely hits," said Scott Rolen, whose 1,000th RBI came on a single that tied the score for the second straight day. "We haven't had that, but we did the last couple of days."
Milwaukee, which led the division by 8½ games before play on June 24, is just a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs. It's the Brewers' smallest margin in the Central since before play on April 22.
"We're still in first," reliever Derrick Turnbow said. "We've just got to play better, like we're capable, and I think everything will be fine."
Milwaukee completed a 2-6 trip and has lost 11 of 14 on the road, dropping to 21-32 away from home. At Miller Park, the Brewers' are 36-17, the best home record in the NL.
"We're going home and it's a good chance to get on a roll again," Turnbow said, looking ahead to a homestand against the Mets and Phillies.
Turnbow can't explain the Brewers' road woes.
"That's the million dollar question, so to speak," he said. "We've got to figure it out someway, somehow, and very quickly."
The defending champion Cardinals, who trailed by 10½ games at the end of June, are just six games back despite a pitching staff devastated by injuries. St. Louis won three straight for the first time since June 3-6.
"It would have been very easy a whole bunch of times to say 'This is not our year,"' manager Tony La Russa said. "We could have just disappeared. If we start doing the baseball things better, character-wise we're in great shape and we can have some fun."
St. Louis closed to 5-4 in a four-run fifth inning, then went ahead in a five-run eighth against Turnbow (2-4) and Carlos Villanueva.
Ludwick, who drove in the go-ahead runs in both ends of Saturday's doubleheader, walked on a 3-2 pitch for a 6-5 lead. Pujols then broke open the game.
Brewers manager Ned Yost tried to take the loss in stride. Closer Francisco Cordero gave up three runs in the ninth inning on Saturday, and this time he never got a chance to pitch.
"I've never felt comfortable, especially in this ballpark, with any lead," Yost said. "The other night we had a huge lead and I was never comfortable. Those guys can really swing the bat."
Yost had a simple message for his team, bidding for the franchise's first winning season since 1992.
"Keep your heads up," Yost said. "We'll go home and rest, take it easy, and go after it again on Tuesday."
Ryan Franklin (4-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Scott Spiezio, activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game and playing for only the fifth time since June 26, doubled to start the fifth. Eckstein fouled off seven 0-2 pitches before lofting an RBI double, and the Cardinals added two more runs on Estrada's passed ball and Ludwick's groundout.
- Estrada is 7-for-15 against Wells.
- Brian Shouse worked a scoreless sixth for Milwaukee and has not allowed an earned run in his last 20 appearances covering 17 2/3 innings.
- The Cardinals lead the NL with 46 pinch hits.