ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager Mike Matheny likes what he sees from veteran pitcher John Lackey this season.
Lackey pitched seven strong innings and Matt Carpenter had two hits and drove in two runs, leading St. Louis to a 7-4 victory Wednesday over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 36-year-old Lackey (4-3) has a 2.93 ERA. He scattered 10 hits Wednesday, allowing three runs while striking out five and walking one. He is 4-1 in four career starts against Milwaukee.
"John Lackey has been a front-line starter for a long time," Matheny said.
Still, he added that "Lackey has absolutely been a surprise for us as far as how crisp his stuff has been and being able to eat up the kind of innings he has."
He has thrown seven or more innings in six of 11 starts this season.
"Everything was working for him," catcher Yadier Molina said. "He looked good on the hill."
Lackey has gone 7-1 in 11 regular-season starts and one playoff outing at Busch Stadium since joining the Cardinals after a trade with Boston. He is 4-1 in six starts at home this season.
"It's a nice place to pitch, for sure," Lackey said. "It's a pretty big yard. It's a fun place to pitch with the atmosphere, and we seem to swing the bats pretty well here, too."
Trevor Rosenthal recorded his 17th save by getting the final two outs on a double play.
Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson (2-6) lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and seven runs (six earned). Nelson has allowed 20 runs and 23 hits in 14 2-3 innings for a 10.43 ERA and has taken the loss in all four of his appearances — three starts — against St. Louis since last season.
The Cardinals improved the best home record in the majors to 22-7 and won all three series during their nine-game homestand.
St. Louis scored five runs in the first.
"It's a great way to start your day," Matheny said. "It gave John some room to work."
Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds had RBI singles, and a run scored when third baseman Hector Gomez couldn't handle a grounder for an error.
Nelson didn't record an out until his 23rd pitch and needed 29 pitches to get out of the inning.
"We had an opportunity to make that a couple-run inning, and we didn't make plays," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
"We've got to make plays," he added. "Those are outs. You can't give the other team more outs. It's tough to win like that."
Gerardo Parra hit a solo homer, his first since May 15, in the third for the Brewers' first run. Parra was 4 for 5.
Gomez left the game in the bottom of the sixth when he crashed into the seats behind third chasing a foul ball hit by Jason Heyward. He was examined by a physician for a possible concussion and the results were negative, a Brewers spokesman said.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun didn't play Wednesday. He flew to Los Angeles to undergo a planned procedure called chryotherapy on a sore right thumb that stems from an injury at the end of last season. It is the second time he's had the thumb treated. The Brewers are off Thursday before playing at Minnesota.
The Brewers optioned RHP Tyler Cravy to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Milwaukee recalled OF Shane Peterson from Colorado Springs. Peterson, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2008, started in left field. It was his third game in the majors.
Brewers: Kyle Lohse (3-6, 6.50 ERA) pitches Friday at Minnesota. Lohse will make his 12th start and has lost his last two. Opponents are hitting .284 with 13 homers against him.
Cardinals: Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.27 ERA) will be facing Los Angeles and making his first appearance at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers handed Wacha his first loss last Saturday. His seven wins are tops in the majors this season.