MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder's 440-foot home run landed in the right-field bleachers, and with it went the Cardinals' grasp on the top spot in the National League Central.
Fielder dealt Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook a powerful blow, as the RBI leader in the NL cracked a two-run homer in the sixth inning that capped the Brewers' 4-3 come-from-behind victory against St. Louis on Sunday in front of a sold-out crowd at Miller Park. Fielder's towering home run finished off the Brewers' three-game sweep of St. Louis and gave Milwaukee a half-game lead in the Central.
"We're no longer in first place, and this is June, and now we have to be ready for Washington on Tuesday," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose team led the division since May 19.
"I don't want to get melodramatic. We came here to win the series and we got beat in the series. They out-managed us, they out-played us, and if you do those little things, you usually have a better score."
Westbrook (6-4, 5.16 ERA) cruised through the first five frames until Rickie Weeks led off the sixth inning with a single and Mark Kotsay laced an RBI double to left center. The right-hander -- who hasn't completed six innings in each of his last four starts -- couldn't keep his pitches to Weeks and Kotsay down in the zone, and Ryan Braun followed up with a single that deflected off third baseman Matt Carpenter's glove to score Kotsay.
With the crowd on its feet, Fielder stepped into the batter's box and wasted no time adding to his performance during the homestand. The two-run shot, which came on the first pitch, was Fielder's 19th homer of the season and his eighth in the past 10 games. The bomb off Westbrook was the sixth of the eight homers Fielder has hit in that span that has given Milwaukee the lead.
"When they make a mistake, I'm not missing it right now," Fielder said. "That's always good."
La Russa walked out to the mound to end Westbrook's outing as Fielder emerged from the dugout to salute the crowd. Westbrook allowed four runs on eight hits and did not record a strikeout.
"We've got to do better," Westbrook said. "It's a matter of coming back out here, being a little more consistent and getting back in the win column, and, you know, get back to winning series like we were doing. That's the biggest thing. Yeah, it's a bump in the road, but we've got to figure out, myself [included], I've got to figure out how to get deeper in ballgames and put up more zeroes. We can't have that huge inning like we did today."
Brewers starter Shaun Marcum (7-2, 2.68 ERA) ran into trouble in the fourth inning when a ground-rule double by Jon Jay started the frame. The right-hander hadn't given up many hard hits heading into the inning, and right fielder Corey Hart helped out when he caught a liner by Albert Pujols that kept Jay at second. Pujols went 0-for-3, which ended his nine-game hit streak.
Colby Rasmus loaded the bases with a soft hit that hugged the third-base line, and Skip Schumaker's sharp ground ball to right field plated Lance Berkman and Rasmus.
The center fielder went 2-for-4 with a double and nearly provided some ninth-inning heroics when he took a curveball from closer John Axford and drove it to the wall in center field. Carlos Gomez made a leaping catch as he crashed into the wall, and Axford ended up recording his 18th save.
"In this ballpark, when you square up a ball, you're not sure what's going to happen," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's a really good at-bat, when a guy's throwing 96-97 [mph], he throws four fastballs, and the first curveball he throws, you almost hit it out to dead center."
Sunday's loss marked the second time this season the Cardinals were swept, the last time coming May 13-15 in Cincinnati. After the sweep by the Reds, St. Louis took eight of its next 10 games, a feat Schumaker hopes the Cardinals can duplicate.
"I think the off-day will be good to clear your mind a little bit and hopefully take the series against Washington," he said. "The main focus right now is to clear this series as fast as you can."
La Russa's club played the series with Berkman in left field and Jay in right while it waits for starting left fielder Matt Holliday to return from the 15-day DL. The four-time Silver Slugger is slated to return to the lineup on Thursday, a move Schumaker said should help St. Louis get back on track as it competes to regain the lead in the NL Central.
"This is going to be a different lineup in a month or so," Schumaker said. "We've had a few injuries and we played well without our big boys in the lineup for the most part, so hopefully we can bounce back. It's one series, so I think we'll be OK."
Audrey Snyder is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.