ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee did something Thursday night no one has done since St. Louis placed Joe Kelly in the starting rotation July 6: Tag him with a loss.
Scoring in three of the first four innings, the Brewers dropped the Cardinals into a first-place tie in the National League Central with a 5-3 win at Busch Stadium.
Kelly (8-4) won his previous eight decisions, dating to July 12 at the Chicago Cubs. But he lasted just five innings in this one, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while walking one and fanning four. Kelly also committed two throwing errors, the first costing him an unearned run in the second.
Tyler Thornburg (2-1) gave up only three hits and two runs over six innings for Milwaukee (63-82), walking two and whiffing six in recording his fifth straight quality start. Three relievers picked up the last nine outs. Jim Henderson pitching the ninth for his 25th save despite allowing a two-out homer to Matt Adams.
Sean Halton went 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the Brewers, while leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki added insurance in the ninth with a triple that scored Yuniesky Betancourt.
The result snapped a five-game winning streak for St. Louis (85-61), which is now deadlocked with Pittsburgh atop the Central. Earlier Thursday evening, the Pirates subdued the Cubs, 3-1.
Milwaukee tallied a run in the first when Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short, scoring Scooter Gennett. The Brewers took a 2-0 lead an inning later when Halton slapped a single under the glove of shortstop Pete Kozma, plating Logan Schafer.
Halton upped the lead to 4-0 in the fourth when he lofted a two-run homer over the left-field wall with Carlos Gomez aboard. It was the second homer for Halton, getting his first start of the series.
St. Louis cut the deficit in half in its half of the fourth. Matt Holliday doubled down the left-field line, scoring Jon Jay from first. The play was originally called a ground-rule double by third base umpire Phil Cuzzi, but changed after a crew conference.
Holliday advanced to third on Carlos Beltran's warning track fly ball to right and scored on David Freese's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina and his brother, assistant hitting coach Bengie Molina, weren't at the ballpark for a second straight night. They were with their mother, who was recovering from surgery in a St. Louis-area hospital. Both Molinas are expected to return for Friday night's game with Seattle. ... Cardinals RHP Trevor Rosenthal was also unavailable Thursday night because his wife was in labor with the couple's first child. ... Milwaukee gave SS Jean Segura the night off in favor of Jeff Bianchi. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he decided Segura needed a rest when he chased a 3-2 pitch in the dirt from Rosenthal for a strikeout in the eighth inning Wednesday night.