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Streaking Brewers hand reeling Cards eighth straight loss

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Carpenter failed to prevent the St. Louis
Cardinals' losing streak from reaching eight games, matching a
slump they endured in June.

The 2005 NL Cy Young winner left Friday night's game with an
injury to the thumb on his pitching hand that put a scare into a
team already on the skids. His right thumb was swollen, although
X-rays indicated no break, after a 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee
Brewers.

"He took that ball right off the top of his thumb and he's got
quite a bit of swelling," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's the
bigger issue, even above losing the game."

Prince Fielder went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and Tony
Graffanino had three hits and an RBI to help the Brewers beat
Carpenter, who was on the mound the night the Cardinals stopped
their earlier eight-game skid.

La Russa was somewhat consoled by the fact his team shaved an
early three-run deficit to one. The Cardinals lost 8-1 to
Philadelphia on Thursday, but missed an opportunity to end the
slump by going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Friday.

"What's better, going 1-2-3 and out like we've been doing or
having a chance to drive some in?" La Russa said. "I'd take
getting them on base and getting a few home."

Doug Davis (7-6) worked into the sixth and Dan Kolb rescued him
from a bases-loaded jam to end that inning. Francisco Cordero got
the last three outs for his third save in as many chances with
Milwaukee, which has won four of six.

"I'm not really ever worried about the other team, really,"
Fielder said. "I just worry about our team. If we do things right,
it really doesn't matter what they do."

Juan Encarnacion had two hits and two RBI, David Eckstein had
two hits and his first RBI since July 7 and Scott Rolen doubled and
tripled for the Cardinals. The NL Central leaders were swept in
three-game series by two sub-.500 teams, the Phillies and Cubs,
before falling to another team with a losing record on Friday.

The Cardinals have been outscored 54-29 during the slump, and
their division lead was shaved to 2½ games over Cincinnati. In the
first seven losses, the Cardinals lost only one game off their
lead.

Davis allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with
three strikeouts and four walks, and is 2-0 in his last five
outings, raising his career record to 58-58. All four walks were of
the Cardinals' seventh- and eighth-place hitters, two each to
Ronnie Belliard and Yadier Molina.

Carpenter (10-6) needed only 65 pitches to get through six
innings. The Brewers bunched three of their seven hits against him
in a three-run third highlighted by Fielder's two-run homer. They
had two hits and Kevin Mench's sacrifice fly in the sixth for a 4-2
lead.

Graffanino had an RBI single in the third, singled and scored on
Mench's sacrifice fly in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.

Carpenter was hurt with two outs in the sixth when he tried to
block Bill Hall's high chopper with his glove and missed, instead
taking the ball off his right thumb. Hall was retired after
shortstop Eckstein played the carom and threw him out. Carpenter
stayed in the game after consulting with trainer Barry Weinberg,
striking out Geoff Jenkins to end the inning.

Rolen tripled and scored on Encarnacion's infield hit in the
sixth to cut the deficit to one, and Carpenter was taken out for
pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio with the bases loaded and two outs.
Kolb, pitching for the first time in nine days, got Spiezio on a
pop-up to shortstop.

"I owe him dinner, at least," Davis said. "With all my runs
out there, he came in and got the job done. You can't ask for
anything more than that."

Carpenter said he probably couldn't have worked the seventh, in
any case.

"I don't know, I was going to go out and try," Carpenter said.
"But the way it feels right now, I'm saying probably not."

Game notes
Of Fielder's 21 homers, 17 have come with the bases empty
and four with one on. ... Spiezio is 3-for-24 as a pinch hitter
with one homer and three RBI. ... Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds,
who entered the game a combined 12-for-32 against Davis with four
homers, got one hit in six at-bats against the left-hander. Pujols
doubled leading off the fourth. ... The Brewers improved to 20-34
on the road, second-worst in the majors. ... The last time the
Cardinals had two losing streaks of eight or more games was in
1983, when they dropped eight in a row twice.