Wily Peralta gave the Milwaukee Brewers a dominant start and a batting order that has been slumbering through a 1-10 July awakened in a big way, erupting for 19 hits in an 11-2 thrashing of the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday at Miller Park.
With the win, the Brewers (53-43) snapped a seven-game losing streak and regained sole possession of first place in the National League Central heading into the All-Star break. The Cardinals (52-44) slip back to one game behind.
Milwaukee has held at least a share of first place every day since April 5.
The Brewers chased Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez (2-4) with four runs in four innings, but just kept hitting. Milwaukee scored in six different innings and utility man Elian Herrera had the first five-hit game of his career, going 5-for-5 with a double and scoring three times.
Peralta, meanwhile, bounced back in a big way from his disastrous outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday during which he gave up nine earned runs in just 4.1 innings.
Peralta (10-6) was a model of efficiency, working seven innings with just 80 pitches, allowing only an unearned run on three hits while striking out five and—best of all—not walking a batter.
The Brewers scored twice on a strange play in the bottom of the first. Gomez and Gennett led off with back-to-back singles and Braun hit a little dying flare over the head of St. Louis first baseman Matt Adams. Gomez was slowing down heading into third before third-base coach Ed Sedar noticed Gennett charging toward the bag, so Sedar waved Gomez home.
The sight of Gomez trying to score seemed to unnerve Adams, who threw a high, awkward throw over the head of catcher Tony Cruz at the plate. While Cruz did throw out Braun trying to get to second, Gennett had time to score the second run on the play.
St. Louis got a run back in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a hit. Kolten Wong reached when strike three evaded catcher Jonathan Lucroy for a passed ball. Wong stole second, moved up to third on a groundout by Matt Holliday and scored when Adams bounced out.
The Brewers surrendered a six-run lead Friday night, but there was no such concern Sunday. Milwaukee answered the Cardinals’ fourth-inning tally with two of their own in the bottom of the frame.
Herrera singled with one out and moved up on a sacrifice by Peralta. Gomez—for the third straight game—was hit by a pitch and Gennett followed with a double into the gap in left to score both runners.
The Brewers continued to tee off on Maness in the sixth. Herrera led off with a double and went to third on another Peralta sacrifice. Gomez singled in the run and went to second when Gennett stroked his third hit of the day.
Braun then did something almost unfair from a pitcher’s point of view, staying back just long enough on a changeup that was three, possibly four, inches off the ground at the plate and jerking it into left for an RBI single.
Jason Motte released Maness and Ramirez immediately singled home another run.
Gomez ripped an RBI double in the seventh, while Davis had an RBI groundout and Lyle Overbay laced an RBI single in the eighth.
Four Brewers headed out to Minneapolis for All-Star Game festivities that begin Monday. Ramirez and Gomez were voted into Tuesday’s game as starters, while Lucroy was named Friday to replace injured Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the starting lineup. Rodriguez, with his 27 first-half saves, is also representing the Brewers.
Milwaukee returns to action Friday at 6:05 p.m. Central against the Washington Nationals in D.C.