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Eight is enough: Cards finally end skid vs. Brewers

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Tony La Russa was in the dugout cursing the
baseball gods when Prince Fielder hit a ball off the end of his bat
with the bases loaded that appeared certain to fall.

The St. Louis Cardinals led by a run in the sixth inning, and
their manager dreaded more adversity for a team trying to end its
second eight-game losing streak of the season. Somehow center
fielder Jim Edmonds swooped in, gloving the ball just before it hit
the grass, saving a lead and helping the team end the slide with a
4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.

"That play Jim Edmonds made is as good of a play as he's made
since he's been here," La Russa said. "That ball falls, they've
got the lead. The ball gets by him, they've got the lead maybe by
two.

"I still don't know how he got there."

Scott Rolen's RBI double in the first gave the Cardinals their
first lead in six games and Albert Pujols' 34th home run, his first
homer since July 25, was a two-run shot in the third. Ronnie
Belliard added an RBI single in the third for a 4-0 lead, and the
bullpen worked four scoreless innings with Jason Isringhausen
getting the last three outs for his 29th save.

When shortstop David Eckstein squeezed Kevin Mench's popup to
end the game, the relieved home crowd gave the Cardinals a standing
ovation. For the first time in a long while, loud music blared in
the clubhouse.

"This is kind of new," starter Anthony Reyes said. "It's real
nice. I like it. It's kind of like a little weight lifted off our
shoulders."

Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets left after one inning because of
tightness in a pectoral muscle. Sheets (2-4) has been limited to
seven starts this season due to injuries and said he wasn't hurt on
a particular pitch.

Sheets said the feeling reminded him of cramping that led to a
torn back muscle that ended his season last August.

"It wasn't too bad throwing as much as in between pitches it
felt like a cramp in there," Sheets said. "It kind of became
eerily similar to last year's cramp that I tried to go through and
we all know the rest of that story."

Geoff Jenkins hit a two-run homer for the Brewers, his 10th of
the year and first since July 16. Jenkins entered the game in a
3-for-30 slump.

The Cardinals were outscored 54-29 in the slump, during which
they were swept by the sub-.500 Cubs and Phillies. According to
Elias Sports Bureau, the Cardinals are the first team in major
league history with two eight-game losing streaks in one season
while remaining in first place throughout.

They also dropped eight in a row from June 20-27, when a 5½-game
lead in the NL Central was whittled down to 1½. They had a 5½-game
lead when the latest skid began and now lead by 2½.

The Cardinals, coming off consecutive 100-win seasons, hadn't
had a pair of losing streaks that lasted eight or more games since
1983, when they dropped eight straight twice. That was the year
after the team's last World Series championship.

The Brewers totaled two hits against four relievers, threatening
when they loaded the bases in the sixth. But Edmonds' tumbling
catch against Fielder ended the inning and bailed out reliever
Tyler Johnson.

"It's just one of those plays that really pumps you up,"
reliever Johnson said. "It was awesome. I'm going to kiss the
floor when he walks on it."

Fielder said it was just Edmonds being Edmonds.

"I knew he had a chance because he does that all the time,"
Fielder said. "I was just hoping he didn't catch mine."

The Cardinals took their first lead since the first inning of a
4-2 loss to the Cubs on July 29, Game 3 of the losing streak, with
a two-out rally in the first. Pujols singled, stole second and
scored on Rolen's double off the left-field wall.

Geremi Gonzalez relieved Sheets and struck out the side on 12
pitches in the second but the Cardinals scored three more in the
third on Pujols' homer and Belliard's RBI single for a 4-0 lead.

Reyes (3-5) held the Brewers hitless until Bill Hall singled
with one out in the fourth, but most of the lead then quickly
evaporated. Jenkins followed with a homer and pinch-hitter Brady
Clark singled in a run.

Game notes
Brewers coaches Robin Yount, Mike Maddux and Dale Sveum
attended the St. Louis Rams' scrimmage Saturday morning, and spent
several minutes chatting with QB Marc Bulger after the first string
was finished. ... Brewers SS Hall robbed Rolen of a hit with a
running catch in shallow left to end the seventh. ... Milwaukee is
20-35 on the road, second-worst in the majors. ... Mark Mulder,
whose 29th birthday was Saturday, begins a rehab assignment from a
shoulder injury on Sunday for Class A Quad Cities.