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Almost there! Caratini, Perkins homer in Milwaukee’s 6-0 win over NL Central rival Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers players Willy Adames (27) and Mark Canha (21) celebrate a 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals following Thursday’s afternoon game in St. Louis. With the win, the Brewers’ magic number to clinch their second NL Central title in three years fell to three games. (Jeff Roberson/AP photo)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Victor Caratini hit a three-run homer and Blake Perkins added a solo shot, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-0 victory on Thursday in the final game of a four-game series.

The Brewers’ magic number to clinch their second National League Central title in three years fell to three with nine games to play.

“We’re in a good spot right now,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re playing well. We’re not there yet. Let’s take care of business. Right now, it’s finish the job.”

Milwaukee (87-66) could wrap up the division title as soon as Friday in Miami with another victory along with two Chicago Cubs losses. The number to just clinch a postseason berth is two over the Marlins.

The Brewers have won eight of their last 11 and 22 of their last 31 games.

“We’re playing solid, all-around baseball in all three areas,” Counsell said.

St. Louis (67-86) fell to 20 games behind first-place Milwaukee in enduring its first losing season since 2007. The Cardinals, now shut out 12 times this season, have lost seven of their last 11 games.

“It is what it is,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “We’ve had some injuries. It’s been that type of year.”

Wade Miley (9-4) breezed through six scoreless innings, throwing 92 pitches. He gave up three hits and only one runner reached second base. He struck out seven and walked two while stranding five runners.

“We’re playing a fun brand of baseball and we’re close to being where we want to be at,” Miley said. “The intensity has picked up. It’s a very talented team. I just go out and pitch. Nothing is done until it’s done.”

Miles Mikolas (7-13) pitched into the sixth inning, allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits and a walk. He had lost eight of his last nine decisions dating back to July 27.

“I’m trying to get through the season working on stuff,” Mikolas said. “I’m just going out there trying to have some fun. It’s a year to go back and see what I did good and hold on that and change what I did bad.”

Perkins led off the third inning with a home run to right field, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead. It was the first home run for Perkins since June 17 at Pittsburgh. He returned to the club Sunday from the 10-day injured list. Perkins had been sidelined by an oblique injury since Aug. 11.

“Up and down the order today, everyone was having good at-bats,” Perkins said. “I try to play my game and play as well as I can.”

The Brewers extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning. Right fielder Jordan Walker misjudged Brice Turang’s ball for a two-base error and followed it with a throwing error, allowing Turang to take third. One out later, Sal Frelick singled to left for the run.

Milwaukee chased Mikolas in the sixth. Willy Adames led off with a double followed by singles by Rowdy Tellez and Andruw Monasterio for a run. Caratini cleared the bases by drilling a 3-2 slider into the right field stands, making it 6-0. It was his first homer since Aug. 11.

“Three-run homers are game changers,” Counsell said. “We’ve gotten that hit more often.”

GOOD PITCHING: The Brewers’ three pitchers Thursday allowed six total hits.

Milwaukee has not given up double-digit hit totals in 26 consecutive games, the longest active streak or otherwise in MLB this season. It’s the longest in MLB since the Washington Nationals did it in 2018.

The 1968 Baltimore Orioles had a 30-game streak in 1968.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Brewers closer RHP Devin Williams celebrated his 29th birthday on Thursday. The St. Louis-native last pitched on Sunday against Washington and tossed a scoreless ninth inning. He has 35 saves this season.

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