MILWAUKEE -- The St. Louis Cardinals' deal for Joel Pineiro didn't make much of a ripple at the trade deadline, but it's beginning to look like a key move that could help push the team back into contention in the National League Central.
Pineiro, who was acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox on July 31, gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings as the Cardinals beat the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers 8-3 Wednesday night.
"When your starting pitching is out there shutting guys down, everybody thinks, 'Hey, we've got something going here. We've got a chance to win,'" Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Albert Pujols hit his 275th career home run and Scott Rolen had his ninth career game of four hits or more as the Cardinals closed to within 3½ games of the division-leading Brewers. St. Louis remains in third place in the NL Central, but will go for a three-game sweep of Milwaukee on Thursday.
Jim Edmonds also homered -- his first since June 9 -- before leaving the game in the bottom of the seventh with a sore leg that La Russa described as "an ouch."
Pineiro (2-1) was pitching out of Boston's bullpen before the trade, but the former Seattle Mariners starter appears to be making a successful transition back into the rotation. After losing his first start for the Cardinals, Pineiro held San Diego scoreless through seven innings last Thursday and now has won two in a row.
"My heart is being a starter, and I'm glad St. Louis gave me a chance," Pineiro said.
Meanwhile, the Brewers' starters continue to flow in a different direction.
Rookie Yovani Gallardo (4-3) gave up seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, including home runs to Pujols and Rolen in the first inning.
Gallardo, who went 4-0 in his first seven starts after being called up in June, now has lost his last two. Gallardo gave up 11 runs in 2 2/3 innings in his most recent outing, a week ago at Colorado.
The Brewers haven't had a starting pitcher record a victory since Gallardo's win over Philadelphia on Aug. 3, and Milwaukee starters are 1-8 with a 7.64 ERA in their past 16 games.
Brewers manager Ned Yost said he continues to hope that one day, he'll go home, go to sleep and wake up the next day to find that his team has worked its way out of its pitching and hitting woes.
But for now, it's pretty much a nightmare.
"You just keep hoping that today's the day that we're going to break out of it," Yost said.
Before Wednesday's game, Yost said he would give another struggling starter, former All-Star Chris Capuano, one more chance to regain his command against Cincinnati on Sunday. The Brewers have lost the last 15 games Capuano has started.
Yost acknowledged that the string of bad starting performances could get to a team, but said he didn't expect that to happen to the Brewers.
"If you let it, but our guys aren't that kind of players," Yost said. "Our guys don't fold up and die and wilt."
Pujols got to Gallardo first, homering off the scoreboard high in center field.
"It's just another home run," Pujols said. "That's how I look at it. What it means is I did something to help my team out to win today."
Edmonds singled, and Rolen hit a two-run homer to the second deck in left field off a 1-1 pitch to give St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
"The game the third baseman had is Hall of Fame material," La Russa said.
Milwaukee's Bill Hall hit a solo home run in the second, breaking a 27-game, 105 at-bat homerless streak. But the Cardinals got an RBI double from Yadier Molina in the fourth inning, then pulled away with three runs in the sixth.
Gallardo knows how much the team needs solid start, but said it didn't affect him on the mound.
"I don't see it as pressure to me at all," Gallardo said. "It's tough. You've still got to go out and battle."
Brewers slugger Prince Fielder went 0-for-4 Wednesday night, hours after the commissioner's office handed down a three-game suspension for his confrontation with an umpire on Sunday. Fielder is appealing the suspension.
- Cardinals OF Juan Encarnacion (sore left knee) was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game.
- Injured Brewers starter Ben Sheets is expected to throw one more bullpen session before throwing a simulated game at the team's training complex in Phoenix next week.
- Geoff Jenkins hit a solo home run in the seventh, moving him into sole possession of second place on the Brewers' career home run list with 209.
- Pinch hitter Joe Dillon tripled in the eighth, allowing the Brewers to set a franchise record with a triple in each of their last seven games.
- The Brewers recalled OF Gabe Gross from Triple-A Nashville and designated RHP Chris Spurling for assignment.