St. Louis (98-52) at Milwaukee (63-86)

Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Wed Sep 22, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Cardinals can just relax and get ready for the playoffs at this point.

With the NL Central title clinched, the Cardinals meet the Milwaukee Brewers in the third game of their four-game series at Miller Park.

The Cardinals, who secured their third division title in five years Saturday, rested five of their starters in a 6-4 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday. St. Louis had won four of its previous five.

The Cardinals, who are 1-1 on a 10-game road trip, played without starters Scott Rolen, Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders, Edgar Renteria and Mike Matheny on Tuesday.

Walker was a late scratch with shin splints, and Rolen has missed 10 straight games with a strained left calf.

Dave Krynzel, the Brewers’ No. 1 pick in the 2000 amateur draft, hit leadoff Tuesday and had two singles and a double to help Milwaukee snap a seven-game losing streak.

Dan Kolb pitched out of a ninth-inning jam to earn a team-record 38th save. He broke the previous mark of 37 set by Bob Wickman in 1999. St. Louis put two on with one out before Kolb retired Hector Luna and Marlon Anderson on consecutive grounders.

“After the year is over I’ll have more time to sit around and think about it,” said Kolb, eligible for free agency after the World Series. “Who knows how long it will last if I leave?”

While Milwaukee’s 18-45 record since the All-Star break has ensured the Brewers of their 12th consecutive losing year, they would like to head into the offseason on a positive note.

“The second half has been a big disappointment to all of us, but to finish on a good note would be a lot better than not finishing on a good note,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

While Kolb established a new team record Tuesday, Ben Sheets will now look to set one of his own. The 26-year-old right-hander has 237 strikeouts this season, three short of Teddy Higuera’s franchise record set in 1987.

Sheets has allowed just four earned runs over 22 innings in his last three starts. He surrendered two runs and four hits over eight innings Friday in a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros.

“Benny had an awesome night,” Yost said. “He was throwing it 96-97 from the first pitch on. … Maybe I could have enjoyed it if Benny had had a couple of runs to work with.”

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Starting Pitchers

W. Williams Hou vs. B. Sheets Atl
11-8 Record 12-14
4.18 ERA 2.70
131 K 264
58 BB 32
1.32 WHIP 0.98