• Gang-busters start: The Cardinals used a three-run first inning to deliver an early cushion that would prove enough for the victory. David Eckstein led off with a single and advanced to third on Albert Pujols' double-play ball before scoring on Scott Rolen's double to left field. Jim Edmonds then singled, scoring Rolen and Juan Encarnacion, who had walked and advanced on Rolen's double.
• Free falling: The Brewers have lost four of their past five games, reducing their lead in the NL Central to 1½ games over the Cubs.
• Quotable: "You get what you earn, and he definitely earned a big game for us." -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, on Reyes
-- ESPN.com news services
Cardinals 5, Brewers 2
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Anthony Reyes was so impressive in halting his 12-game regular-season losing streak, the Cardinals might keep him around.
Reyes worked six economical innings to end a slump that began last September, helping St. Louis beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Saturday night to sweep a day-night doubleheader.
The assignment was envisioned as a cameo, but the Cardinals are starved for starters and manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan were reconsidering sending Reyes back to Triple-A Memphis.
Reyes, who entered the game with a 6.40 ERA, retired 15 of the last 16 hitters he faced.
"You get what you earn, and he definitely earned a big game for us," La Russa said. "It's nothing official, but I told Dunc and a couple of coaches, 'You've got to evaluate whether you give Anthony another start.' "
Ryan Ludwick's RBI single capped a three-run ninth off closer Francisco Cordero for a 7-6 victory in Game 1. The Cardinals, who trailed by six runs in the third, mounted their biggest rally since coming from six down to beat Milwaukee 10-6 on June 9, 2006.
The Brewers have lost four of five, and their NL Central lead was shaved to 1½ games over the Cubs with the Cardinals seven back in third place. It's the closest the defending World Series champions have been to the lead since June 14 when they were 6½ games back.
"This season has been up and down," Albert Pujols said. "Hopefully we play the best baseball ever the last two months."
Milwaukee is 21-31 on the road, losing 10 of their last 13, to go with an NL-best 36-17 at home. The Brewers' lead hasn't been this slim since April 22 when they also led by 1½ games.
"It's important for me and our team in general to keep expecting good things to happen," Game 2 loser Chris Capuano said. "When you have a day like today, it's a long, tough day and there's a lot of negativity around."
Reyes (1-10) was recalled earlier in the day. He avoided first-inning trouble that has dogged him all year and needed only 67 pitches to get through six innings, allowing two runs on two hits.
"It's a weight off my shoulders," he said. "It was probably the hardest one I've ever had to get, so it was pretty nice."
Jim Edmonds had a two-run single and Scott Rolen had an RBI double in a three-run first off Capuano (5-7) that could have been much bigger without Pujols' double-play ball. Capuano allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings and is 0-7 with a 6.16 ERA in 12 starts since May 7, after going 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his first seven outings.
"Cappy was kind of in the same boat his last 11 starts," manager Ned Yost said. "Something had to give. I was just hoping it was our guy that it gave for."
Reyes, who dominated the Tigers while pitching into the ninth in Game 1 of the World Series, won his first regular-season game since Sept. 3, 2006, against the Pirates. His start this year tied a franchise record for futility with Kid Carsey, who began the 1898 season 0-10.
Geoff Jenkins had a sacrifice fly in the second and Corey Hart hit his 16th homer in the sixth for the Brewers, who trailed 3-2 before RBI singles by Pujols and Juan Encarnacion in the seventh off Matt Wise put the Cardinals ahead 5-2.
Ryan Braun was 3-for-4 with his 18th homer and three RBIs in the opener for Milwaukee. He was 0-for-4 in Game 2, but is 12-for-28 with three homers and seven RBIs with one game to go on an eight-game trip. Rookie Manny Parra pitched six strong innings and hit a two-run double in his first career start.
Braun thought the Brewers, up 6-0 in the third inning, might have relaxed.
"I feel like recently we've had quite a few games similar to this when we score early and then we kind of let our guard down a little bit," Braun said. "We can't do that anymore."
Cordero (0-4) has 32 saves in 37 chances, and all five blown saves have come on the road. He has a 0.33 ERA at home and an 8.62 ERA on the road, and has been saddled with a blown save and loss in his last two appearances after giving up two runs in 1 1/3 innings on Thursday in Cincinnati.
Cordero declined to talk to reporters through a team spokesman.
Russ Springer (5-1) pitched the ninth for the Cardinals, who had lost four in a row to the Brewers by a combined score of 35-5 but benefited from six innings of one-hit ball from the bullpen.
Brian Falkenborg replaced an ineffective Brad Thompson and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. He allowed one hit in three innings. Pujols and Rolen also had RBIs in the ninth before Ludwick's game-winner.
Encarnacion had three RBI singles for the Cardinals in Game 1 and was 4-for-8 on the day with four RBIs. La Russa was ejected for the first time this season after arguing a checked swing strike call that went against pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker in the sixth.
Thompson left with a blister on the ring finger of his right hand after walking Craig Counsell and Braun to start the fourth, his quickest exit in 13 starts. He gave up six runs -- four earned -- and seven hits with four walks.
Before Game 1, the Cardinals recalled Falkenborg from Triple-A Memphis and optioned RHP Kelvin Jimenez to Memphis. ... The Cardinals are 24-25 at home after going 49-31 in the first year at new Busch Stadium. ... Game 2 drew paid attendance of 45,829, largest of the season, with about 2,000 no-shows. Game 1 attendance was 45,089, marred by 12,283 no-shows. ... Thompson scoffed at La Russa's suggestion that the blister could land him on the 15-day disabled list.