MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig hit towering home runs in St. Louis' six-run second inning, and the Cardinals held off the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6 on Wednesday.
Matt Holliday also homered and Shane Robinson had three hits for the Cardinals, who are slightly behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the tight NL Central race.
After taking a one-run lead in the first inning on a double by Craig, the Cardinals went ahead 7-0 in the second off Brewers starter Tom Gorzelanny (3-5). Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook hit a bases-loaded double into the left-center field gap that scored two runs. He entered the game hitting only .167 with two RBIs this season.
Following Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly, Beltran launched a two-run shot that caromed off the center-field scoreboard. With two out, Craig hit a solo homer to right-center.
The Brewers cut into the lead in the third on a three-run homer by Aramis Ramirez, and then added two runs in the fifth.
Juan Francisco broke out of an 0-for-15 slump, during which he struck out 10 times, with a run-scoring single. Sean Halton drove in another run with a hit, cutting the deficit to 7-5 and chasing Westbrook.
Kevin Siegrist struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi with the bases loaded to end the inning. Siegrist (2-1) recorded two outs to notch the victory. Four Cardinals relievers held the Brewers to one run over the final 5 1-3 innings to preserve the win.
Holliday's solo home run in the ninth extended the lead to 8-5.
Edward Mujica earned his 33rd save in 35 attempts despite giving up a long solo home run to Logan Schafer with one out in the ninth.
Westbrook gave up four earned runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out one during a 75-pitch outing. In his previous start on Aug. 16, when he threw a career-high 124 pitches, Westbrook gave up six earned runs in 6 2-3 innings.
Gorzelanny surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out five.
Khris Davis had a career-best three hits for Milwaukee.
NOTES: Milwaukee reliever Rob Wooten was placed on the paternity list. Wooten didn't make it back to North Carolina in time for the birth of his daughter. "He walked into the room and (his wife) was holding the baby," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But everyone is fine." ... Pitcher Donovan Hand was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to replace Wooten. ... OF Norichika Aoki was held out of the lineup due to right knee soreness. "It has been bugging him for a while. We aren't worried too much," Roenicke said. ... The Cardinals concluded a 12-game stretch against NL Central clubs. . St. Louis returns home to face the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Milwaukee returns to action Friday at Cincinnati.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Kyle Lohse beat the Cardinals for the first time this season and Sean Halton knocked in a career-high three runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat St. Louis 6-3 Tuesday night.
Lohse (9-8) beat the Cardinals in his fourth try this season and improved to 3-5 in nine outings overall against his former team.
Lohse left after six innings with the Brewers leading 6-3. He earned his team-leading 17th quality start, including six in his last seven. He struck out four, walked two and allowed six hits and three runs, two coming on Yadier Molina's two-run homer in the fourth. Molina doubled and scored in the second on Matt Adams' single.
After John Axford and Brandon Kintzler each pitched a scoreless inning, and Jim Henderson pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 22 chances.
Lance Lynn (13-7) got roughed up in the Brewers' five-run fourth, highlighted by Halton's two-run single with the bases loaded.
Milwaukee's first six batters in the frame reached, loading the bases twice with no outs. Scooter Gennett drove in the first run with a single. After Aramis Ramirez singled and Khris Davis reached on Lynn's fielding error, Halton drove them in with a line drive to center that doubled his season RBI total. Logan Schafer followed with an RBI single and Norichika Aoki tacked on the last run with a sacrifice fly.
Halton set a career mark in the fifth with his third RBI of the game. Davis singled, stole second and scored on Halton's grounder into center.
Carlos Beltran singled and scored on Molina's 10th home run of the season.
Adams beat the Brewers defensive shift in the second inning and knocked in Molina with the Cardinals' first run. Adams blooped a single over the head of shortstop Jean Segura, positioned on the right side of second base. Molina was on with a double over the head of center fielder Schafer. The ball flicked off Schafer's glove and rolled to the wall.
NOTES: Kolten Wong, who had his first two major league hits on Monday night, continued getting on base. He went 3 for 5 with two singles and a double. The team's No. 1. pick in the 2011 draft joined the Cardinals from Triple-A Memphis Friday night in Chicago. ... Brewers 1B Juan Francisco got the game off. He's struck out four times in consecutive games. "If I think he just needs one day, I will get him back in there tomorrow," manager Ron Roenicke said. Halton replaced him. ... Lynn is 2-2 in four starts facing the Brewers. ... Brewers CF Carlos Gomez remained out of the starting lineup after spraining his right knee colliding into the center-field wall on Thursday night. He's missed five consecutive games. ... Segura stole his 37th base, matching Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres for the NL lead.
But all Doc Washburn wanted to know about was immigration.
The local radio talk-show host asked the Republican senator why he had worked with Democrats on legislation that would give the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally an eventual path to citizenship.
"We know you, and we've always loved you," Washburn said, "and yet you're pushing this and it's a real problem for us."
The exchange - and Rubio's reluctance to raise the issue after spending months advocating for comprehensive immigration reform - underscore why the potential presidential candidate has undertaken a sort of image-rehabilitation tour, promoting his conservative bona fides to crowds in Florida's most Republican bastions.
Once embraced by the tea party, Rubio's name can now elicit boos and catcalls at rallies. And since he began championing immigration changes, his standing has slipped in some polls.
The senator acknowledges the fallout. He told Republicans in Panama City, "Politically, it has not been a pleasant experience, to say the least." But his aides insist that his pivot to health care is driven by policy, not politics, that he's simply giving the U.S. House its own space to tackle immigration.
On a six-city, three-day swing through North Florida last week, Rubio emphasized his opposition to funding the health care law and barely mentioned immigration, the issue most closely associated with him. In a 35-minute speech to the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, he devoted just one minute to the reform legislation he helped shepherd through the Senate. In private, he discussed the issue in a series of meetings with conservative activists upset by his advocacy. He also held a series of public roundtables with business leaders, redirecting attention to his campaign to cut off funding for Obama's health care law.
As he told Washburn and the yacht club crowd: "If we're not willing to draw a line in the sand on Obamacare, then what issue are we willing to draw a line in the sand on?"
The tour came as two of Rubio's fellow senators - and potential presidential rivals - appear to be building strength with conservatives. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky also are pushing to defund the health care law, promoting their efforts among activists in states that will help decide the Republican nomination in 2016.
Political and budget analysts say the push to neuter "Obamacare" has little chance of success: Leading congressional Republicans have openly rejected the strategy, fearing a repeat of 1995, when the GOP forced a government shutdown over spending cuts and resuscitated President Bill Clinton's political career. Moreover, most of the health care law's funding is deemed mandatory, falling outside Congress' annual spending legislation.
Nevertheless, three years after its passage, the health care law remains a potent political issue. Polls show a majority of Americans - and most Republicans - oppose the law.
That helps explain why Rubio drew big applause for his pledge to reject any budget that funds "Obamacare" as he traveled across the Florida Panhandle, a stretch of plantations, farms and beach towns dotted with anti-abortion billboards and homemade anti-Obama signs.
Republican opposition to the health care law was visceral.
"Nobody knows what's in it," said Gerry Maloney, a retired U.S. Air Force general in Jacksonville. "It's just awful."
Some who were angry with Rubio over immigration said they were heartened by his campaign against the health care law.
"He may win us back with that," said Glen Leirer, a retired computer salesman in Panama City, "because that's probably the worst thing."
Indeed, Rubio has turned the issue into a conservative purity test. Before leaving Washington for the August recess, he chastised his fellow Republicans on the Senate floor. "Don't come here and say, `I'm against Obamacare' if you're willing to vote for a budget that funds it," he said. "If you pay for it, you own it."
Rubio says his renewed drive against the health care law has been driven partly by the administration's decisions to delay some key provisions, including a requirement for larger employers to offer health insurance to full-time employees. Those moves, he said, amount to an "admission this law is not ready for prime time."
He also cites the concerns of labor unions, which have asked Congress to change a provision that they say gives employers an incentive to cut workers' hours in order to avoid a health coverage requirement.
Freddie Wehbe, who employs 200 workers at Domino's Pizza franchises in Gainesville, was among several local business owners who told Rubio that they're waiting to hire workers or delaying expansion because of uncertainty about the law's impact on their health insurance costs.
At each stop, Rubio found fervor generally reserved for election years. But, except for a brief mention in Jacksonville, he addressed immigration only when asked about it.
During an interview on a Tallahassee radio show, Rubio tried a new approach. He said that if Congress doesn't pass a reform bill, Obama may be "tempted" to act on his own to legalize the millions of immigrants already here illegally.
"A year from now we could find ourselves with all 11 million people here legally under an executive order from the president, but no E-Verify, no more border security, no more border agents - none of the other reforms that we desperately need," Rubio said, referring to an electronic system for employers to check their workers' legal status.
The show's host thanked Rubio for his response. But he said the listeners emailing him were not impressed.
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