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STL@MIL: Braun's relay throw helps nab Craig at home

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun said it after the last Kyle Lohse start:

"We have to find a way to score some runs for him."

It didn't happen that day against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

It didn't happen Friday, either.

Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller bested Lohse and the Brewers for the second time in three weeks, pounding the strike zone with power fastballs for six innings of St. Louis' 6-1 win at Miller Park.

Lohse's record fell to 1-3 and the Brewers fell to 2-4 in his starts this season. In the four losses, they have scored two total runs, but Lohse sounded like a man growing weary of questions about poor run support.

"I don't go out there with any mindset other than making a pitch," he said. "I don't care what the score is. Obviously, if you put some runs up early you get some room for error, but that's not really a concern of mine right now."

Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran homered and Holliday and Jon Jay drove in two runs apiece to support Miller's six-inning, five-strikeout, one-run effort. Three weeks earlier in St. Louis, the Brewers managed only one hit in seven scoreless innings against Miller. This time, they had seven hits in six innings, but all were singles and none produced a run. The Brewers were shut out until Jonathan Lucroy lifted a sacrifice fly for the second out of the sixth.

Miller struck out Carlos Gomez to strand the bases full of Brewers in that inning, and left the final three frames for the Cardinals' beleaguered bullpen. Unlike Thursday's series opener, when the Brewers trimmed a 6-1 deficit to 6-5 against St. Louis relievers, Milwaukee went meekly this time. Prospects Carlos Martinez, 21, and Seth Maness, 24, pitched a scoreless inning apiece before old man Fernando Salas (age 27) worked a perfect ninth.

"I pitched against them in the second game of the year, so I kind of knew what our focus was to be," Miller said. "The biggest thing was executing it. I got a little wild in the end and threw a lot of pitches in the sixth, but at the end of the day I thought I threw the ball well."

That's been the story for the Cardinals' excellent starting rotation.

In five games against Milwaukee this season, Cardinals starters have pitched to a 1.03 ERA (four earned runs in 35 innings), allowing 25 hits versus 34 strikeouts. The Cardinals' rotation is the best in baseball, by nearly a full run per nine innings over the runner-up Red Sox

"It's really good -- and [Adam] Wainwright tomorrow," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, referring to the Cardinals ace set to start Saturday's nationally televised game. "We're going to have a battle, we know that. Our pitching has to hold down their offense."

Lohse, the former Cardinal, was not nearly as sharp as the last time he met Miller in a 2-0 Brewers loss at Busch Stadium on April 12. On Friday, Lohse surrendered four earned runs on 11 hits and was out of the game after five innings and 89 pitches, only the second time in six outings that he did not meet the definition of a quality start. The other was April 22, when Lohse dislocated his pinky finger and had to exit a start against the Padres.

"They just never gave me an opportunity to settle in," Lohse said. "They kept getting those leadoff guys on base, and it was really a battle for me all night."

Two swings accounted for the Cardinals' four runs against their former teammate.

In the third inning, two pitches after Lohse couldn't get a call from plate umpire Dale Scott on a 1-and-2 fastball that either grazed the outer part of the plate or just missed, depending on your view, Holliday hit a mighty two-run home run that sailed an estimated 458 feet before crashing off the center-field scoreboard for a 2-0 Cardinals lead. In the fifth, the Cardinals rallied with two singles and two sharp lineouts to Braun in left field before Jay delivered a double over Braun's head.

Of that close pitch to Holliday, Lohse said, "I haven't even looked at it, but I think it was just off. It was a good pitch, he laid off it because I don't think he could do anything with it, and I went back and caught too much plate with another pitch."

"They're a great hitting ballclub," Roenicke said of the Cardinals. "I mean, these guys can really hit. They hit offspeed well, they hit fastballs well. They kill mistakes. They're really good."

Lohse's night might have been worse, but the Brewers cut down three Cardinals runners at the plate in the first six innings.

After Lucroy's sacrifice fly put the Brewers on the board, Beltran homered off Brandon Kintzler and Holliday walked and scored on a passed ball to extend the Cardinals' lead.

Lohse will tangle with another quality starter next time, too. The Rangers' Derek Holland is scheduled to start opposite Lohse in Wednesday's homestand finale.

"I know coming off the season he had last year [with the Cardinals] with the record he had, they must have scored, obviously, a lot better than we're scoring for him," Roenicke said. "But we're going to score. He's not always going to match up with a great pitcher every time, and … I know today wasn't as good, but if he pitches the way he's been pitching for us, he's going to win a lot of games."

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