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09/23/2013 12:39 AM EDT
Brewers beat Cardinals 6-4 in home finale

AP Sports Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The young Brewers got a taste of what a pennant
race is like.

The 6-4 win Sunday night over the NL Central-leading Cardinals
might be even more valuable next season for Milwaukee than in a
2013 campaign weighed down by injuries and the doping suspension
of slugger Ryan Braun.

Norichika Aoki scored three times and doubled home a run, and
Jim Henderson got Matt Adams, representing the potential
go-ahead run, to strike out to end the game and close out the
season at Miller Park on a high note.

"I think it's great for them. You play the Cardinals right now,
it's a playoff atmosphere," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But all
this is growth for them, and (when) the pressure spots come up,
because they will, they can handle them better."

The Brewers are in fourth in the NL Central, long out of the
pennant race at 17 games under .500. More pressure is on the
division-leading Cardinals, who learned earlier Sunday they were
assured of at least an NL wild card after Washington lost its
doubleheader opener against Miami.

The Cardinals chased Peralta after loading the bases in the
sixth with nobody out. Reliever Donovan Hand allowed two runs to
score on consecutive sacrifice flies to cut the Brewers' lead to
4-3, but he got out of the jam by getting Matt Carpenter to
strike out on a curve with the tying run at third.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina misplayed a throw to the plate
for another error in a two-run seventh that restored Milwaukee's
three-run cushion. St. Louis also committed two errors in the
Brewers' two-run second.

For some reason, the Cardinals just weren't sharp.

"We made many mistakes and were lucky to have been that close,"
manager Mike Matheny said. "From here on out we have to play
clean baseball and they know that. But when you don't do it, you
have to make up for it somehow."

Working through a nagging blister on his right index finger,
Wily Peralta (11-15) struggled through five-plus innings by
giving up five hits and walking five. Henderson earned his 26th
save after allowing Carlos Beltran's RBI single in the ninth
before striking out Adams.

The Brewers lost Braun in late July to suspension. Rickie Weeks
was lost for the season in August to strained left hamstring.
Corey Hart never even made it out of spring training and hurt
both knees this year.

So Milwaukee has turned to young players to solidify the team.
For instance, Peralta, 24, will be counted on to continue to
mature and solidify the rotation next year.

The blister that has plagued him of late felt the worst it's
been all season on Sunday.

"You know, I walked a lot of people, but I think I made big
pitches when I needed to," Peralta said.

St. Louis remains two games up in the division, but now has two
teams to fend off in second after the Reds defeated Pittsburgh
11-3 to pull into a tie with the Pirates.

Errors by third baseman David Freese and starter Joe Kelly (9-5)
helped contribute to the two Milwaukee runs in the second.

Kelly hesitated on what could have been an inning-ending double
play in the first after getting Carlos Gomez to bounce sharply
back to the mound with runners on first and third. That allowed
a run to score from third.

Aoki had led off the first with a single and came home on an RBI
single by Aramis Ramirez with one out. Aoki then reached on an
RBI double in the second before scoring after Kelly threw away a
sacrifice bunt attempt by Scooter Gennett.

"My stuff felt good," Kelly said. "Obviously, me throwing away a
ball didn't help. Just one of those games and that kind of stuff

Kelly went seven innings, allowing seven hits and six runs -
three of them unearned.

NOTES: LF Matt Holliday was scratched from the starting lineup
with back spasms. ... St. Louis has a major league-leading 34
wins from rookie pitchers this season, their most since also
getting 34 in 1952. ... Manager Ron Roenicke thinks SS Jean
Segura will be available for pinch-hitting duties for the
Brewers' three-game set starting Monday in Atlanta. Segura, the
NL leader in steals with 44, has been sidelined since Wednesday
with a strained right hamstring. ... LF Khris Davis was out of
the lineup Sunday due to a nagging wrist injury, but is also
likely to return to action in Atlanta.

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