MILWAUKEE — Albert Pujols hit his 275th career home run and new St. Louis Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro kept Milwaukee’s bats quiet in an 8-3 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night.
Scott Rolen matched a career high with his eighth career four-hit game, 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 today.
Pineiro (2-1) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings for his second straight victory.
Meanwhile, the Brewers’ streak of disappointing starts continued.
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.
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.
Gallardo retired his first two batters, giving up a long line drive to Rick Ankiel that was caught at the wall by center fielder Bill Hall. But Gallardo wasn’t as fortunate against Pujols, who hit his 25th home run of the season off the scoreboard high in center field.
Jim 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.
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.
Rolen doubled to open the inning — leaving him a triple shy of hitting for the cycle — and Chris Duncan followed with an RBI double. After Gallardo hit Molina with a pitch, Molina advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on a wild pitch.
Brendan Ryan then laid down a sacrifice bunt to the left of the mound, allowing Molina to score and make it 6-1. David Eckstein hit a bloop single to right, allowing Pineiro to score from third and chasing Gallardo from the game.
Edmonds added a home run in the seventh — his first since June 9 — putting St. Louis ahead 8-1.
Brewers slugger Prince Fielder was in the lineup 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.
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 — and scored on a sacrifice fly by Corey Hart to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 8-3.