MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Scott Rolen is convinced he has found his swing.
Rolen snapped out of an early-season slump with a two-run homer and two singles, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 on Saturday."I feel like I found something, I hope," said Rolen, who started the season 4-for-32. "I felt like I was seeing the ball a little better and I felt like I could duplicate what I'm doing tomorrow."Rolen is a key piece for the defending National League champions, who moved into sole possession of first place in the Central for the first time this season. Last year, the Cardinals took first place on June 11 and held it the rest of the way.St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter (2-1) left in the seventh inning with a 5-0 lead and the bases loaded. Brady Clark greeted reliever Al Reyes with a three-run double to make it 5-3.Junior Spivey then struck out looking to end the inning.Randy Flores got one out in the eighth, Julian Taveraz finished the scoreless inning and Jason Isringhausen pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.Rolen homered in the first and hit singles in the fifth and seventh innings. The homer was his first of the season."Some results can help build some confidence and kind of take some of the heat off," Rolen said.Carpenter, who agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2007 with a club option for 2008 on Friday, gave up three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Carpenter walked three and struck out five."It was good. For the most part I was hitting my spots," Carpenter said. "In the last inning, I got away from my game plan a little bit, but those things happen."Milwaukee starter Doug Davis (2-1) pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks. He struck out two."He won't use it as an excuse, but he has been fighting the flu bug," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "He didn't have his best stuff."Davis blamed his struggles on his inability to get ahead of hitters in the count."You fall behind guys, they'll get better hacks at you," he said. "Anybody in that lineup can hit the ball out of the park."St. Louis took a 2-0 lead on Rolen's home run, scoring Mark Grudzielanek."The home run in the first inning kind of makes you take a deep breath and helps the monkey jump off your back a little bit," Rolen said.Albert Pujols hit his third homer -- second in two nights -- to make it 3-0 in the third.The Cardinals opened a 4-0 lead in the fourth when Milwaukee catcher Damian Miller attempted to pick off Hector Luna from third, but his throw sailed high for an error, allowing the runner to score.So Taguchi's single off Wes Obermueller scored Rolen to make it 5-0 in the seventh.Clark's double snapped the Brewers' scoreless stretch at 15 2/3 innings. Milwaukee was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position before Clark's double.
It took Rolen 33 at-bats to hit his first home run. Last season, he had 34 HRs. ... The Brewers did not get a ball out of the infield between the fourth and sixth innings, with nine consecutive batters grounding out. ... With a temperature of 68, it was the first time in five games this year that the roof was open at Miller Park. ... Brewers right fielder Geoff Jenkins had a fever and missed the game. Chris Magruder made his first start of the season in Jenkins' place. ... Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds missed Friday night's game with a stomach flu and pinch-hit Saturday in the seventh inning. He singled and stayed in the game.