Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

Thursday Game Report

Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

 By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com

How long had it been since the Cardinals won nine consecutive games, all in September?

Here are a couple of hints:

Jon Lester was a senior in high school in Tacoma, Wash. Yadier Molina was playing rookie ball in Johnson City, Tenn. Nolan Arenado was 10 years old, growing up in southern California.

All three of those players, now seasoned major-league veterans, played a key role in the Cardinals matching that performance from 20 years ago, in 2001, with a win over the Brewers on Monday night in Milwaukee.

Arenado hit a two-run homer in the first, Molina had a pair of RBI singles and Lester picked up his 200th career victory by allowing just three hits, two of them solo homers, over six innings.

The win kept the Cardinals three games ahead of the Reds in the race for the second wild-card playoff spot with 13 games left in the regular season.

It’s their longest winning streak at any point during the season since another nine-game streak in 2004. The Cardinals have not won 10 games in a row since an 11-game streak earlier in 2001. Counting only wins in September, they have not won 10 in a row in the final month of the season since 1963, which they will try to match on Tuesday night.

Here is how Monday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: Arenado’s homer, his 33rd of the season, followed a single by Tyler O’Neill and lifted him past the 100-RBI mark for the season, to 101. He is the first Cardinal since Albert Pujols in 2010 with a 30-homer, 100-RBI season and the first Cardinal to drive in 100 runs in a season since Matt Holliday in 2012 … Molina’s first RBI single of the night broke a 2-2 in the sixth, driving in O’Neill, who led off the inning with a walk … After Matt Carpenter hit a pinch-hit double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt in the seventh, Molina drove in the Cardinals’ final run with another single in the eighth.

On the mound: Both of the solo homers by the Brewers off Lester came in the second inning, before he retired 14 of the next 15 hitters he faced, allowing just a two-out single in the fifth before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. In his last six starts Lester has allowed nine earned runs in 35 2/3 innings, a 2.27 ERA. The Cardinals have won six of his last eight starts … Kodi Whitley, T.J. McFarland and Luis Garcia combined to pitch the last three innings, allowing just a walk by Whitley in the eighth before McFarland came to get a double play … Garcia got the final three outs to earn his first save.

Key stat: O’Neill has scored at least one run in each game of the Cardinals current winning streak. The last Cardinal to score in more consecutive games was Pujols, who had an 11-game streak in 2010.

Worth noting: The Cardinals had advertised that Jake Woodford would be getting the start on Monday night but apparently internally knew since last week that Lester would start the game, keeping him on a five-day schedule and skipping the off-day last Thursday … Before the game the Cardinals designated Daniel Ponce de Leon for assignment and recalled Brandon Waddell from Memphis, making him the fifth lefthander in the bullpen … O’Neill was named the NL Player of the Week for last week after posting a .391 average with three homers and 10 RBIs in six games.

Looking ahead: Woodford will start on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.