ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals’ vaunted lineup is taking a backseat to the rotation.
Jason Marquis threw eight sharp innings, Jim Edmonds hit a home run off Ben Sheets, and the Cardinals shut out the Milwaukee Brewers for the second consecutive game, 4-0 on Thursday night.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys throwing the ball great here and we’re all feeding off each other,” Marquis said. “Hopefully, we can keep it rolling through the rest of the season.”
Edgar Renteria, Albert Pujols and John Mabry drove in a run apiece to help the Cardinals sweep the two-game series. They also shut out the Brewers 1-0 on Wednesday, and Thursday was the eighth time Milwaukee has been blanked this year.
In the two games, the Brewers managed 15 hits and had one extra-base hit. That came from pitcher Victor Santos on Wednesday.
“It’s kind of been the story the past few weeks,” said Lyle Overbay after going 0-for-4. “We just can’t come up with that clutch hit.”
The Cardinals, who have the best record in the major leagues at 61-34, have won 12 of their last 13 at home. Overall, they have won 15 of 17.
Sheets (9-7) allowed four runs, matching his season worst, on a season-high nine hits. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, the first time he didn’t pitch six innings since April 15 — a string of 17 outings.
“He struggled just a little bit, but he got it going and pitched great,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s just a good-hitting team over there.”
Marquis (10-4) tied Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter for the team lead in victories and made the Cardinals the only team with three 10-game winners. He is 7-0 in his past nine starts and 9-1 in his last 12 appearances.
Last year, Marquis was winless with the Braves and spent half of the year in the minors before coming to the Cardinals in a trade that sent J.D. Drew to Atlanta.
“He just needed a change of scenery,” said Yost, a former Braves coach. “It was a great trade. I told Tony (La Russa) ‘I think you’re really going to like this kid.’”
Marquis scattered nine hits with two strikeouts and one walk, constantly keeping the ball down. Geoff Jenkins’ drive to the warning track in left to end the fifth was the Milwaukee’s first flyout, and Cardinals outfielders made five putouts in all.
“I had good defense working behind me and I was keeping the ball down and making some pitches,” Marquis said. “If I didn’t have that defense behind me, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Julian Tavarez pitched the ninth to finish the 10-hitter, St. Louis’ sixth shutout of the season.
Marquis also doubled in the sixth for his 12th hit, which leads NL pitchers. He’s batting .286 with five RBIs and has 11 hits in his last 22 at-bats.
Sheets had been 6-1 with a 0.82 ERA in starts this year following a Brewers loss. But the Cardinals jumped on him in the first with a Marlon Anderson’s leadoff single, Renteria’s RBI double and Pujols’ run-scoring, opposite-field single for a quick 2-0 lead.
“There’s something about the first inning,” Sheets said. “I just have to get going earlier.”
Sheets retired the next 10 in a row before Edmonds hit his 23rd home run an estimated 430 feet over the right-field wall to make it 3-0 in the fourth.
Roger Cedeno turned a bad-hop grounder to first into a triple with one out in the sixth and scored when Mabry’s pop fly to shallow left dropped between three fielders for an RBI single.
The Brewers have lost six of eight to fall to .500.