MILWAUKEE >> The St. Louis Cardinals have been in the playoffs 10 times in the previous 14 seasons, so being in first place really matters to them only in September. But, inasmuch as they hadn’t been there for the past 98 days this year, their ascension to a tie for the lead in the National League Central Division shouldn’t be dismissed.
This is especially so since 11 days previously, the Cardinals were 6 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. But the Cardinals went 8-3 and the Brewers 1-9 after that.
The Cardinals’ 10-2 thrashing of the Brewers Saturday at Miller Park delighted the many Cardinal fans here, brought the teams dead even at 52-43 with one game remaining Sunday before the All-Star break.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright tied for the league wins at 12, giving up two runs in seven innings. That was as many total runs as Wainwright had allowed in his previous five starts.
But he had room to coast after his team gave him a 6-0 lead in the first three innings. His next outing will come in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, which he may start, in Minneapolis.
Tony Cruz, the Cardinals’ No.1 catcher until at least September with Yadier Molina out, drove in three runs with two singles. Kolten Wong, who had one homer in his first 77 big-league games, hit his fifth in his last seven games and Jon Jay had three hits.
The Cardinals also had a strong defensive game, with reserve outfielder Peter Bourjos making the best play, running down Jonathan Lucroy’s drive at the center-field wall in the eighth.
Since the third inning of Friday’s game when the Cardinals erased a six-run lead, the Cardinals have outscored the Brewers 17-2. Milwaukee has lost seven straight games, six of them at home, and 11 of its last 12 overall.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is 18-6 in Miller Park since taking over at the start of the 2012 season.
Milwaukee was playing without shortstop Jean Segura, who had returned to the Dominican Republic after learning of the death there of his nine-month-old son.