ST. LOUIS -- With Milwaukee's Marco Estrada in no-hit mode through 5 2/3 innings Wednesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals focused their energy on trying to get him off the mound.
"If you can get him out of the game, it gives you a confidence boost," St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter said. "You can go to work on their bullpen."
That's exactly what the Cardinals did. They touched relievers Brandon Kintzler and Mike Gonzalez for five runs in their last four offensive outs to turn a potentially big loss into a come-from-behind 5-1 win that kept them atop the National League Central.
It was the fifth straight win for St. Louis (85-60) on its nine-game homestand. The Cardinals stayed a game ahead of Pittsburgh and three in front of Cincinnati.
And it all happened when Estrada left the game after walking David Freese to push the tying run to second base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
On his second pitch, Kintzler allowed Daniel Descalso's single down the left field line, plating Matt Holliday with the equalizer.
In the eighth, Carpenter singled with one out and moved to second on Jon Jay's walk. Holliday slashed an infield single off the glove of shortstop Jean Segura, loading the bases and driving Kintzler (3-2) from the mound in favor of Gonzalez.
But the veteran lefty couldn't quash the threat as Carlos Beltran lined a sacrifice fly to left for a 2-1 lead. Two pitches later, the Cardinals tried a double steal with Matt Adams hitting.
Jay stole third easily, but Holliday stopped between first and second. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy tried to pick Holliday off, but his throw bounced down the right field line and Jay scored to make it 3-1.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Holliday didn't get a good jump.
"He was reading the play," Matheny said. "It wasn't a must-go situation. He made a good play."
On the next pitch, Adams laced a two-run homer to right-center, his 12th of the year, to seal the Cardinals' 12th win in 15 games over the Brewers.
"I'm one of the veterans out there, so I'm supposed to be showing the young guys what to do," Gonzalez said. "This is embarrassing, discouraging. St. Louis has our number."
Estrada retired 13 men in a row after issuing consecutive walks in the second inning, but his no-hit bid ended when Carpenter lined an infield single off Estrada's right foot. He allowed just two hits and a run over 6 2/3 innings, walking three and fanning six.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn was nearly as effective in his best outing since his last win on Aug. 4 in Cincinnati. Lynn yielded five hits and an unearned run over six innings, walking two and whiffing 10.
Milwaukee (62-82) scored its only run in the top of the second when catcher Tony Cruz committed a throwing error while Carlos Gomez and Scooter Gennett were stealing third and second, respectively. Gomez trotted home as Cruz's throw to second skipped into center field.
Trevor Rosenthal (2-3) worked a scoreless inning for the win, stranding the potential go-ahead run at second in the top of the eighth.
It was the second straight night that St. Louis won despite not picking up its first hit until 10 outs remained.
"Good starting pitching has kept us in these last two games," Carpenter said. "It means a lot when you can win two games without your offense clicking on all cylinders."
NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina and his brother, assistant hitting coach Bengie Molina, weren't at the ballpark Wednesday due to what was called a "family situation." The team offered no specifics and gave no assurances that either would be back for Thursday night's game ... Gennett, who went 2-for-3, leads the majors in batting average since being called up on Aug. 9, the day Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks went on the disabled list. Gennett is hitting .402 (39-for-97) during the month-long surge.