St. Louis snaps streak, five games back

ST. LOUIS -- Brett Tomko was on the mound for Tony La Russa's 2,000th career victory -- and for No. 2,001. That's how tough it has been for the St. Louis Cardinals lately.

Tomko allowed six hits over eight innings and drove in three runs as the Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak with an 11-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.

"It's been awhile since we won one," La Russa said. "It was a good-looking game."

Tomko went 2-for-4, including a two-run single in the second and an RBI single in the third, as the Cardinals moved within five games of idle Houston in the NL Central.

"It's never over till it's over," Tomko said. "We've just got to keep winning games and win as many as we can and see what happens."

Albert Pujols hit his 42nd home run, leaving him tied with Barry Bonds for the NL lead. Jim Edmonds also homered for the Cardinals, who scored seven times in the first three innings off Wes Obermueller.

Tomko (13-8) didn't allow a baserunner until Keith Ginter homered with one out in the fourth. Bill Hall also homered leading off the sixth. Tomko, who threw a complete game his last outing against the Rockies, struck out two and walked none.

"He was changing speeds and just got us off-balance," Hall said. "It didn't help that he got out to a big lead on us and he was able to get in a comfort zone."

Tomko has a 5.27 ERA but has won seven of his eight decisions since Aug. 2. He's 11-3 since June 19.

"The stats are going to be what they are, and they might not look pretty to some people," Tomko said. "To me, it's been a good year because I've battled back from a lot of adversity."

Obermueller (0-5) is winless in 11 career starts over the last two seasons. He lasted 2 1/3 innings -- his shortest outing of the season -- and allowed seven runs on seven hits.

"The roof caved in on him," manager Ned Yost said. "It's all part of being a young pitcher and learning how to maintain your poise on the mound and staying aggressive."

The Cardinals took a 7-0 lead after three innings, scoring one more run than they had while getting swept over the weekend in Houston.

In the second, Edmonds, Edgar Renteria and Chris Widger walked to load the bases. Tomko hit a two-run single, and Bo Hart added an RBI single to make it 3-0.

Edmonds ended a 4-for-29 slump with his 37th homer leading off the Cardinals' four-run third. Widger, Tomko and Orlando Palmeiro also had run-scoring hits.

Renteria had an RBI single in the fourth, and Pujols homered off Glendon Rusch in the fifth to make it 9-1.

Game notes
Richie Sexson got doubled off second in the seventh when he ran on John Vander Wal's fly out, forgetting there was only one out. ... Pujols has 113 homers his first three seasons, second-most in major league history. He passed Eddie Mathews and needs one more to tie Ralph Kiner. ... Pujols leads the majors with 199 hits and is batting a major league-best .364. ... The victory ended a string of seven straight series-opening losses for St. Louis.