Series: Game 2 of 4

Series tied 1-1 (as of 9/27)

Game 1: Thursday, September 26
Milwaukee 1Final
St. Louis 9
Game 2: Friday, September 27
Milwaukee 2Final
St. Louis 1
Game 3: Saturday, September 28
Milwaukee 1Final
St. Louis 3
Game 4: Sunday, September 29
Milwaukee 0Final
St. Louis 4

Brewers 2

(56-104, 25-54 away)

Cardinals 1

(95-65, 50-29 home)

    8:10 PM ET, September 27, 2002

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    MIL 000000110 2 - -
    STL 001000000 1 - -

    W: B. Sheets (11-16)

    L: R. White (5-7)

    S: M. DeJean (27)

    Cards fall behind D-Backs for homefield advantage

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The worst team in the National League slowed the St. Louis Cardinals' drive for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

    Ben Sheets

    Ben Sheets wrapped up a late-season surge with seven sharp innings and Matt Stairs homered and had three highlight-reel catches in left field as the Milwaukee Brewers beat St. Louis 2-1 Friday night.

    The NL Central champions fell a one-game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks with two games to play in the race for home-field. It was only St. Louis' fourth loss in 23 games, ending a five-game winning streak.

    "We didn't break through against their pitchers and all three guys pitched very well for them,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "You've got to give them credit.''

    The Brewers have 104 losses, by far the most in the NL and the second-most in the majors, but didn't play like it.

    "We've got guys still stepping it up with no time on the clock,'' manager Jerry Royster said. "It's easy to just fold up the tent, but as I've said many times before I'm not even concerned about this team quitting.''

    Milwaukee's Jose Hernandez, one strikeout from tying Bobby Bonds' major league record of 189 in 1970, did not play for the second consecutive game. Royster said he hadn't decided whether Hernandez would play Saturday.

    "I don't know, I don't know,'' Royster said. "He might play tomorrow, though. We haven't made any final decision on it, to be honest. Maybe not.''

    Pinch-hitter Eric Young doubled off Rick White (5-7) to start the eighth and advanced on a sacrifice.

    With the infield playing in, third baseman Scott Rolen tried to make a barehand play on Ronnie Belliard's high chopper and threw wildly and just a bit late to the plate as the go-ahead run scored. Rolen, who signed a $90 million, eight-year contract extension earlier in the day, was charged with an error that allowed Belliard to advance to second.

    The Brewers were left with a punchless lineup with just 120 total RBI and four batters hitting below .200 after Richie Sexson was ejected for arguing a called third strike to end the first.

    Stairs hit his 16th homer off Jason Simontacchi with two outs in the seventh, tying it at 1.

    Mike DiFelice's fourth homer, and first since June 30, put the Cardinals ahead with one out in the third.

    Sheets (11-16) gave up a run on four hits with six strikeouts and one walk. He allowed only two runs in 15 innings in his final two starts of the season, and won six of his last eight decisions overall.

    Sheets didn't care about knocking off the Cardinals.

    "I just worry about myself,'' he said. "I'm not going to make the playoffs and I don't care who goes if I'm not going to make it.''

    Mike DeJean got four outs for his 27th save in 30 chances, and 15th in a row. He struck out three of his four batters.

    Stairs made a diving catch to rob Kerry Robinson of a hit for the final out. He also denied Fernando Vina to start the game and Tino Martinez in the second.

    "Ben Sheets is the hero. I'm no hero,'' Stairs said. "I'll take the three web gems, though.''

    Simontacchi, a 28-year-old rookie who propped up an injury-riddled rotation earlier in the year, worked seven innings and gave up a run on four hits. It could be his final start, since the Cardinals will shorten their rotation in the playoffs.

    "It wasn't like we beat up on Simontacchi, but we executed the basic fundamentals,'' Royster said. "It's kind of Cardinal baseball, right?''

    Rolen was 0-for-4, and DeJean struck him out on three pitches with runners at the corners for the final out in the eighth.

    Game notes

    Cardinals RF J.D. Drew was removed after being hit in the ribs by a pitch in the sixth. Trainer Barry Weinberg said Drew has bruised ribs. Coming in, he had homered in three straight games. ... St. Louis 2B Fernando Vina was hit by a pitch for the 18th time, second-most in the NL. ... Jim Edmonds, who entered 6-for-12 against Sheets, was hitless in three at-bats.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press