Lester wins 200th, Cardinals beat Brewers 5-2 for ninth straight win
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — Jon Lester notched his 200th career win, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Monday for their ninth consecutive win.
The Cardinals have won nine straight for the first time since 2004 to solidify their grip on the second NL wild card. They remained three games ahead of Cincinnati for the final postseason spot, with San Diego four games back and Philadelphia 4 1/2 games behind.
The longest winning streak in franchise history is 14 games, set in 1935.
Milwaukee’s magic number over the Cardinals to clinch the division title remained at three.
Lester (7-6) is the third active pitcher with 200 wins, joining Houston teammates Justin Verlander (226) and Zack Greinke (219). He’s the 30th left-hander in major-league history to reach the mark.
“It’s a nice round number and it looks better than 199,” Lester said. “It’s obviously awesome, but I’m kind of lacking words.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt had plenty to say about Lester, whom the Cardinals acquired from Washington at the trade deadline.
“What a tremendous addition. He’s done a great job,” Shildt said. “This guy’s got such heart. He’s like John Wayne. He’s got that true grit. Big, strong silent type. That’s a heck of a milestone.”
St. Louis got on the board in the first on Arenado’s homer, his 33rd of the season, off Freddy Peralta (9-5).
“It’s extremely important to get out to a lead especially against these arms and these teams that we’re facing that are good,” Arenado said. “But at the end of the day, we are just playing solid baseball regardless of whether we are scoring early or not.”
Milwaukee clawed right back in the second. Avisail Garcia, who returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with lower back spasms, led off with a homer off Lester. Luis Urias followed two batters later with a solo shot of his own to tie it.
Lester retired 10 straight until giving up a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the fifth. Lester surrendered three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter in an efficient, 77-pitch outing.
Lester has worked five innings or more in 19 of 26 starts this year, including nine of 10 since joining St. Louis at the trade deadline.
Cardinals’ relievers Kodi Whitley, T.J. McFarland and Luis Garcia held the Brewers scoreless over the final three innings. Garcia got his first save of the season.
“We hit a bunch of lazy fly balls,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t put enough pressure on Lester or the bullpen. It was just a quiet night.”
Peralta retired 11 of 12 until allowing the first two batters to reach in the sixth. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead on Yadier Molina’s run-scoring single.
Peralta gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
St. Louis tacked on a run in the seventh when Matt Carpenter, batting for Lester, hit a leadoff double and scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s sacrifice fly. Molina drove in another run in the eighth to extend the lead to 5-2.