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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jon Lester notched his 200th career win, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 Monday night.
The Cardinals have won nine straight for the first time since 2004 to solidify their grip on the second NL wild card. They remained three games ahead of Cincinnati for the final postseason spot, with San Diego four games back and Philadelphia 4 1/2 games behind.
The longest winning streak in franchise history is 14 games, set in 1935.
Milwaukee’s magic num- ber over the Cardinals to clinch the division title remained at three.
Lester (7-6) is the third active pitcher with 200 wins, joining Houston teammates Justin Verlander (226) and Zack Greinke (219). He’s the 30th left-hander in major- league history to reach the mark.
“It’s a nice round number and it looks better than 199,” Lester said. “It’s obviously awesome, but I’m kind of lacking words.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt had plenty to say about Lester, whom the Cardinals acquired from Washington at the trade deadline.
“What a tremendous addition. He’s done a great job,” Shildt said.
St. Louis got on the board in the first on Arenado’s homer, his 33rd of the season, off Freddy Peralta (9-5).
Lester retired 10 straight until giving up a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the fifth. Lester surrendered three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter in an efficient, 77-pitch outing.
Lester has worked five innings or more in 19 of 26 starts this year, includ- ing nine of 10 since joining St. Louis at the trade deadline.
Cardinals’ relievers Kodi Whitley, T.J. McFarland and Luis GarcÌa held the Brewers scoreless over the final three innings. GarcÌa got his first save of the season.
The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead on Yadier Molina’s run-scoring single.
Peralta gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
St. Louis tacked on a run in the seventh when Matt Carpenter, batting for Lester, hit a leadoff double and scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s sacrifice fly. Molina drove in another run in the eighth to extend the lead to 5-2.
RHP Jake Woodford (2-3, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals.