Brewers 7, Cardinals 6

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—Jason Conti’s big night came at the worst possible time for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Conti drove in a career-high five runs, including a go-ahead single in the ninth inning that helped the Milwaukee Brewers rally past St. Louis 7-6 Wednesday night.

“I got ahead and got a pitch up in the zone and I hit it to center,” Conti said. “I had eight RBIs in a rookie league game eight years ago. I hit a grand slam, a two-run homer and a couple of other RBIs. I’ve never had more than two or three in the big leagues before.”

Pinch-hitter Brooks Kieschnick tied it with a two-run homer off Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, who blew a 6-4 lead in the ninth. St. Louis remained five games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central—the Astros lost 7-5 at Colorado.

“This one hurts, there’s no doubt this makes it tough,” said Scott Rolen, who finished 3-for-4 with a walk. “All we can do is come back tomorrow and try to win out the rest of the way.”

Albert Pujols went 2-for-5 to maintain his major league-leading .367 average.

Isringhausen (0-1) failed for the third time in 21 save opportunities.

“It was a poor performance by myself, put it that way,” he said. “Here we are needing wins and I do that. We’re up by two and we’re needing wins. There’s no way I should let it happen, but I did.”

Keith Osik led off the ninth with a walk.

“As a closer what kills you the worst is walking people,” Isringhausen said. “I usually have pretty good control. I was getting ahead of everybody and ended up walking them.”

With one out, Kieschnick, a relief pitcher who is a former outfielder, hit an 0-1 cutter into the right-field seats to tie it. It was the second homer Isringhausen has allowed this year and Kieschnick’s second pinch-hit home run.

“I was looking for a fastball and he tied me up pretty good with a cutter on the first pitch,” Kieschnick said. “I was looking for the same pitch on the next pitch because he made me look so bad. I had a chance to hit it and I did. After I hit it, I knew it was gone. It felt pretty good.”

Scott Podsednik then walked and stole second. Conti followed with an RBI single up the middle.

“It was a huge night for Conti,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

Leo Estrella (7-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Dan Kolb worked the ninth, earning his 19th save.

The Brewers snapped a four-game losing streak. Milwaukee had lost its previous five games against the Cardinals and have won three of 13 meetings this season.

St. Louis tagged Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets for five runs on six hits and a walk in the third inning. All the runs scored after there were two outs.

Cardinals starter Garrett Stephenson, who pitched six innings, led off with a single and advanced to third on a single by Fernando Vina, starting for the first time in three games after sitting out with a sore Achilles’ heel.

Third baseman Wes Helms made a diving stop of a shot hit by J.D. Drew and threw out Stephenson at home. After Pujols flied out, Jim Edmonds drew a walk. Rolen drove in two runs with a sharp single up the middle, giving him 99 RBIs.

Tino Martinez walked, and Edgar Renteria singled off Helms’ glove for two runs. Chris Widger extended his hitting streak to eight games with a run-scoring single to center. Sheets struck out Stephenson to end the inning.

The Brewers cut it to 5-4 on a three-run homer to right by Conti, who drove in Milwaukee’s first run in the first inning with a sacrifice fly. It was the 30th homer Stephenson has allowed this season in 174 1-3 innings.

“Three-run homers will get you back in the game,” Conti said. “What’s the cliche, pitching, defense and three-run homers? It was just good timing, I guess.”

The Cardinals made it 6-4 on a two-out infield single off the glove of Sheets by Drew. Widger, who went 3-for-4, led off with a double and advanced on a sacrifice by Stephenson.

The Cardinals’ bullpen has blown six save opportunities behind Stephenson this season.

“He’s had several of these where we haven’t been able to get the last outto get him a win,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

Notes

The Cardinals’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award is Pujols. He will be honored in a pregame ceremony Saturday. All 30 teams nominate a player and the winner will be announced during the World Series. … The Brewers’ pitching staff has allowed the most home runs in the major leagues with 203.The Cardinals are second with 201.

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