MILWAUKEE — Jake Westbrook didn't last long enough to earn the victory on Wednesday, but the light-hitting St. Louis pitcher used his bat to spark a six-run, second-inning outburst that led to a Cardinals win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cardinals jumped out to a seven-run lead and then held on for an 8-6 victory.
Westbrook, who entered the game hitting only .167 with two RBIs this season, smacked a bases-loaded double into the left-center field gap that scored two runs, starting an onslaught that propelled the Cardinals.
"I'm happy to be able to contribute in that sense, especially with the bases loaded and nobody out and to put a good swing on the ball," Westbrook said.
Westbrook didn't fare as well on the mound, however. He fell one out short of earning his eighth win of the year, giving up four earned runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out one during a 75-pitch outing.
In his previous start Friday, when he threw a career-high 124 pitches, Westbrook gave up six earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
"I still felt like I pitched a lot better than I have been in terms of throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys," Westbrook said. "I actually made some good pitches that they put some good swings on. Getting two quick outs in the fifth and not being able to finish it off is pretty frustrating for me.
"The bullpen came in and picked me up and finished it off, and the offense was great."
Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig hit towering home runs in the game-changing second inning. Matt Holliday also homered later in the game and Shane Robinson had three hits for the Cardinals, who remain close behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central race.
"It was a big win," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Those are the ones you've got to find a way to win, when you put that kind of offensive production up early."
After taking a one-run lead in the first inning on a double by Craig, the Cardinals torched Brewers starter Tom Gorzelanny (3-5) in the second.
"You make mistakes and you pay for them, especially against good-hitting teams," Gorzelanny said. "I left balls over the middle, (and made) bad pitch selection."
Following Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly, Beltran launched a two-run shot that caromed off the center-field scoreboard. With two out, Craig hit a solo homer to right-center.
"We are happy that we were able to win the series," Beltran said. "That is basically what is important for us right now."
The Brewers cut into the lead in the third on a three-run homer by Aramis Ramirez and then added two runs in the fifth.
Juan Francisco broke out of an 0-for-15 slump, during which he struck out 10 times, with a run-scoring single. Sean Halton drove in another run with a hit, cutting the deficit to 7-5 and chasing Westbrook out of the game.
"(Westbrook) started out pretty good, but for whatever reason they were finding the good part of the bat and finding holes," Matheny said.
Kevin Siegrist struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning. Siegrist (2-1) recorded two outs to notch the victory. Four Cardinals relievers held the Brewers to one run over the final 5 1/3 innings to preserve the win.
Holliday's solo home run in the ninth extended the lead to 8-5.
Edward Mujica earned his 33rd save in 35 attempts despite giving up a long solo home run to Logan Schafer with one out in the ninth.
Gorzelanny surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out five.
"He didn't command the ball that well early and then they also hit some pretty good pitches. We know they are a good hitting club, and when you don't hit your spots, they are going to put a good swing on it," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.
Khris Davis had a career-best three hits for Milwaukee.
"He keeps showing he can hang in there. He works the count well, which I really like," Roenicke said. "He's an aggressive swinger, but he's not a hacker. He doesn't just go up there and swing at everything. He swings at the pitch he wants to swing at."
Notes: Milwaukee reliever Rob Wooten was placed on the paternity list. Wooten didn't make it back to North Carolina in time for the birth of his daughter. "He walked into the room and (his wife) was holding the baby," Roenicke said. "But everyone is fine."
Pitcher Donovan Hand was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to replace Wooten. Hand was optioned back to Nashville immediately after the game, as was INF/OF Sean Halton. Corresponding moves will be forthcoming, according to a team spokesman.
OF Norichika Aoki was held out of the lineup because of right knee soreness. "It has been bugging him for a while. We aren't worried too much," Roenicke said.
The Cardinals concluded a 12-game stretch against NL Central clubs. St. Louis returns home to face the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Milwaukee returns to action Friday at Cincinnati.