Eric Thames scored the tiebreaking run on an error by losing pitcher Bud Norris in the eighth inning Monday night as the Milwaukee Brewers outlasted the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 in potential National League wild-card game preview.
By winning the opener of a three-game series, the wild-card-leading Brewers (90-67) reduced their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to three and moved within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Chicago Cubs in NL Central.
The Cardinals (87-70) hold just a half-game lead for the second wild card over the Rockies (86-70). Colorado beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-1 earlier Monday night.
The Brewers went ahead in their first half-inning following a 31-minute rain delay. With one out in the eighth, Thames, pinch-hitting for winning pitcher Corbin Burnes, tripled to right field off Norris (3-6).
Mike Moustakas was intentionally walked, after which Norris got ahead of Erik Kratz 0-1. Norris then threw to first to try and pick off Moustakas, but the throw bounced off Moustakas and sailed behind the bag as the Thames raced home from third without a throw.
Burnes (7-0), the seventh of nine Brewers pitchers, allowed one hit over two-thirds of an inning. Corey Knebel, pitching the ninth inning in a save situation for the first time since July 27, earned his 16th save by striking out three.
Braun (bases-loaded walk) and Moustakas (sacrifice fly) each collected RBIs before the Cardinals scored three runs off All-Star Josh Hader in the bottom half, when Jose Martinez hit a solo homer and Marcell Ozuna blasted a two-run shot. It was only the second time this season Hader has allowed more than two runs in an outing.
Milwaukee's Dan Jennings made his first big league start and exited after retiring leadoff batter Carpenter. Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings.