"Then, when you put that kind of pitching into the kind of situation we have to play in, it makes them that much better," said Prince Fielder, who drove in five of the Brewers' 10 runs on the homestand but was held to a harmless double on Wednesday. Fielder was referring to the difficult hitting environment at Miller Park for day games, which Cardinals infielder Brendan Ryan called earlier this week the worst in baseball. Fielder and others have said that on sunny days against pitchers with great breaking balls, it's all but impossible to see the baseball.
"Not that it's an excuse, because those guys are good anyway," Fielder said. "But it's like giving Albert one of those big plastic super bats. It makes them that much better."
Carpenter and Wainwright weren't the only quality arms to stymie the Brewers over the past week. The Giants sent out a surging Barry Zito, co-ace Matt Cain and lefty Jonathan Sanchez, he of the no-hitter earlier this season. The Cardinals featured co-National League Cy Young Award candidates Carpenter and Wainwright, plus the resurgent John Smoltz on Tuesday.
Outfielder Jody Gerut argued it might have been the toughest stretch of opposing pitchers all year.
"You can definitely make that case," Gerut said. "They pitched the [heck] out of the ball. Good pitching beats good hitting, and if you want proof, look over the last week for us. We just had the best of the best in one week."
Wainwright became baseball's first 18-game winner and Pujols hit his Major League-leading 46th and 47th home runs in his 10th multihomer game this season. Pujols drove in three runs, giving him 124 RBIs this season and leaving him only one shy of Fielder's MLB-leading mark.
"I don't know how anybody could ever be better than he is. Ever," said an appreciative Wainwright. "No offense to Henry Aaron and all those guys. I'm sorry, Hank. Albert Pujols is really, really good."
Pujols' first homer of the day came in a three-run Cardinals fifth inning against Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (6-9), who surrendered four runs on eight hits in five innings.
Through the first four innings, Suppan limited the damage to Matt Holliday's first-inning sacrifice fly. Holliday later left the game with a bruised left knee after stumbling over first base in the third. But Suppan found trouble in the fifth, when Wainwright helped his own cause with a leadoff double.
Colby Rasmus delivered an RBI triple two batters later for a 2-0 lead, and Pujols followed with a shot to left-center field that made it 4-0. Suppan fell behind Pujols 2-0 before he tried to bury a fastball inside.
"I pulled it," Suppan said. "I did that a lot today. He does [miss] mistakes, but he's good at hitting them. I've made mistakes against him before that were popups or grounders, but for the most part, he's very good at hitting them and driving them. It's a big situation any time you face him."
Said Pujols: "We executed pretty well today, and we made sure we took advantage of the mistakes he was making. He left the ball up and we took some pretty good, aggressive swings."
Against Wainwright, Suppan knew he was in for a battle.
"It was a little frustrating in the fact I wasn't able to locate my fastball," Suppan said. "They hit some mistakes today that I made, and I didn't really have the touch with my offspeed [pitches] that I would have liked. I just tried to move it around and locate the best I could."
The Brewers finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth inning, when Felipe Lopez homered off reliever Trever Miller.