ST. LOUIS — Jack Flaherty got an extra day of rest and a chance to pitch against Milwaukee, and took advantage of both.
Kolten Wong and Marcell Ozuna drove in two runs apiece, Flaherty pitched six shutout innings and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 on Friday night.
"As the season goes on, whether you are facing a team for the first time or for the third time, there's adjustments made on both sides," Flaherty said.
"Whoever I'm out there I'm pitching against, I'm pitching against."
The Cardinals won for the ninth time in 10 games and pulled within a half-game of the Brewers for the National League's second wild-card spot.
Milwaukee has dropped three of four.
Flaherty (7-6) gave up three hits, walked three and struck out seven. The Brewers had only two runners reach second base against the rookie, who has allowed two earned runs in his past 19 innings pitched.
Friday marked his third start against Milwaukee this year and fourth in his young career. In 18 innings this season, he's allowed two earned runs in 18 innings and struck out 29.
"He pitched well," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He did a nice job."
Bud Norris earned his 24th save in 28 opportunities.
Freddy Peralta (5-4) went six innings, giving up three earned runs. He allowed three hits, walked three, and struck out five. It was his third loss in his last four decisions.
Wong made a nifty play to start the eighth by charging a hopper that bounded over pitcher Jordan Hick's head. Wong snagged the ball in his glove and made a hard sidearm throw to get Keon Broxton at first. That turned out to be important because the Brewers scored twice that inning and cut the lead to 3-2.
"I always take pride in my defense and when I can make great plays like that for the pitcher, that's always huge," Wong said. "To come up clutch was a big day for me."
He capped his night with a two-run double in the eighth to pad the Cardinals' lead to 5-2.
Jedd Gyorko hit his 10th home run of the season to open the fourth. The shot to left field gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
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St. Louis took an early lead after Ozuna followed Yadier Molina's single and a double from Jose Martinez with a hard grounder up the middle.
The Brewers threatened a comeback in the eighth. They loaded the bases against Hicks, and Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run single to pull the score to 3-2 with one out. But Travis Shaw fouled out to left field and Jonathan Schoop's flair to shallow center field was caught by shortstop Paul DeJong.
Catcher Manny Pina expressed relief upon rejoining the Brewers after an MRI of his left shoulder in Milwaukee revealed no structural damage from a collision with Cubs infielder Javier Baez on Wednesday.
Pina and Baez tangled at second base in the Brewers’ loss at Wrigley Field, and the Milwaukee backstop said he felt movement in his shoulder when Baez tumbled over him. Two days later, Pina took about 20 swings in the batting cage at Busch Stadium and said that while he was still sore, he hoped to be back in game shape by Saturday night.
“Nothing bad,” Pina said. “No damage, nothing broke. … I was scared, man. I was scared a lot.”
The encouraging MRI was good news for the Brewers, since the only other catcher on the team’s full 40-man roster besides the current big league duo of Pina and Erik Kratz is Jacob Nottingham, who remains on the Class AAA disabled list with a fractured wrist. Calling up a reinforcement like Jett Bandy or Christian Bethancourt from Colorado Springs would require freeing a spot.
Brewers outfielder Eric Thames was removed from the game before the bottom of the third inning with a sore right knee.
The right fielder collided with center fielder Lorenzo Cain while making a catch in the bottom of the first.
Matt Carpenter drove a ball into the right-field gap that Thames caught before running into Cain.
Both players fell to the ground and remained still for a few seconds before getting up on their own. A trainer checked with Thames and Cain before the game resumed.
Thames struck out swinging in the second in his only at-bat. He is hitting .229 with 16 homers and 37 RBIs in 68 games this season.
Brewers left-hander Wade Miley (2-1, 2.23 ERA) on Saturday looks for his first win since he went seven innings July 21 in a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was his longest outing of the season.
Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (12-3, 2.85) has won five consecutive games. He went seven innings in each of his past three starts and the Cardinals have lost just one of the past eight games in which he started.