Milwaukee capitalized on their home-field advantage once again on Monday with a 6-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals to extend their lead in the National League Central.
The Brewers (61-49) improved their home record to 40-14, the best in the major leagues, and opened up a 3.5 game lead over the Cardinals (57-52).
Nyjer Morgan broke a 2-2 tie with a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning as the Brewers seized the momentum with five runs and cruised to their seventh consecutive victory.
Milwaukee pitcher Zack Greinke (9-4) allowed a two-run homer to Matt Holliday in the first, but regrouped to complete six innings and strike out five batters to pick up the win.
Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young winner, fared better than former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, who allowed five runs in five innings to take the loss for St Louis.
Jonathan Lucroy and Corey Hart added RBIs in the critical fifth to foil Carpenter, who had allowed just one hit entering the inning.
“I made a couple of bad pitches, got the ball up a few different times, but I had some tough breaks,” Carpenter said. “That’s going to happen when you’re facing a tough club like these guys.”
The Cardinals have lost four of six to fall behind the Brewers.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the visitors had hope of a rally with two runners on base and Albert Pujols at the plate, but the St Louis slugger grounded out to cap an none-for-four day.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun added an RBI double in the seventh to complete the scoring.
St Louis’ newly acquired shortstop Rafael Furcal, who arrived in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, singled and scored in the first.
Diamondbacks 5, Giants 2
In San Francisco, Ian Kennedy struck out seven batters over eight innings to lead Arizona to a victory over San Francisco that cut the Giants’ lead over the Diamondbacks in the National League West to just one game.
Kennedy (13-3) won his fifth straight start to move into a share of the National League lead for wins with Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Dodgers All-Star Clayton Kershaw.
Kennedy allowed two runs and only one walk, retiring 10 straight batters at one point.
The Giants, who dropped their fourth straight after being swept in Cincinnati over the weekend, could not do enough on an off night by All-Star pitcher Matt Cain (9-7), who was tagged for five runs in the sixth inning — the first time he has given up five in an inning since 2008.
Nationals 5, Braves 3
In Washington, Rick Ankiel hit two home runs to lead Washington past Atlanta.
Ankiel led off the bottom of the first with a homer to center field. It was the second time this season the Nationals’ opening hitter homered.
Washington starter Livan Hernandez (6-10) allowed just one run and no walks over six innings, and he also drove in a run as the Nationals won their third straight.
Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla also homered twice, extending his career-long hitting streak to 23 games.
Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens (12-4) allowed five runs in five-plus innings.
Dodgers 6, Padres 2
In San Diego, California, Clayton Kershaw pitched a complete game to win his fifth straight start, guiding Los Angeles past San Diego.
Kershaw (13-4) tied his career high for wins in a season, allowing only two runs in his fourth complete game of the season.
Matt Kemp doubled, tripled, scored two runs and drove in his league-leading 83rd run of the season for the Dodgers. Jamey Carroll had two hits, two stolen bases and scored a run, while Dee Gordon also drove in a run.