By JOE DiGIOVANNI
MILWAUKEE — It took a few days for speedy St. Louis infielder Kolten Wong to show he can provide a spark for the Cardinals in the NL playoff race.
Wong, a 2008 Kamehameha graduate, got his first two major-league hits Monday night, keying a four-run rally with an infield single in an 8-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“That was a spark, that’s what we talked about when we brought him here,” manager Mike Matheny said of the rookie who was hitless in his first 10 at-bats after joining the team from Triple-A Memphis Friday night in Chicago.
“It was a pretty good example of what we were hoping for,” Matheny said.
Wong had infield singles in the sixth and eighth innings, and stole two bases. St. Louis trailed 6-5 with two outs in the eighth when he hit a high chopper to third and was ruled safe at first by umpire Marty Foster in a call disputed after the game by the Brewers.
“That’s what they brought me up here for, to get on base, so the guys behind me can drive me in,” he said. “That’s my goal. That’s what I go up there every time trying to do.”
Wong finished 2 for 5 and is now 2 for 13 (.154 average) in his four-game career.
The infield hit opened the flood gates. The single was the first of six consecutive hits, capped by pinch-hitter David Freese’s two-run double, and the Cardinals won for the ninth time in 11 games.
“They were relentless right there,” Matheny said of his team. “It started with some hustle with Wong legging that out, and guys having some big, big at-bats for us.”
Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay homered, and Yadier Molina had four hits for St. Louis, which got seven of its 16 hits in the eighth inning.
Aramis Ramirez snapped a 1-for-18 skid since returning from the disabled list Aug. 13 with a two-run homer off Michael Wacha (2-0) in the seventh to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.
It didn’t last long. The Cardinals erupted in the eighth off reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-1), who gave up four runs and six hits while getting just two outs.
Edward Mujica, who was unavailable during the weekend series at the Cubs because of a tired arm, pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 34 chances.
Kintzler gave up a leadoff single to Molina, but Jay grounded into a double play. The Brewers reliever needed one more out to finish the inning, but gave up five consecutive singles to lose the lead.
The Brewers thought they should have been out of the inning after Wong’s infield chopper.
“I was standing right there, and I thought he was out,” Kintzler said. “But from his (Foster’s) angle — it’s a short hop — it’s a tough call from his angle. I have a better angle. If you slow it down on replay, you have to really slow it down. It’s a tough play. From his angle, it’s tough.”
Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso then singled and pinch-hitter Matt Adams singled to tie it at 5. Matt Carpenter hit the next pitch from Kintzler for another single to score Descalso.
Beltran singled, and Freese then hit the first pitch from Burke Badenhop for a double to make it 8-5.
The Brewers had two runners on in the ninth but Scooter Gennett grounded out to end the game.
Norichika Aoki hit his seventh homer for Milwaukee.
St. Louis starter Shelby Miller allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight in 5 1-3 innings.
Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out four in six innings.
Jay’s two-run homer off Estrada in the sixth snapped a 2-2 tie. It was his seventh homer this year and second in two days after hitting a three-run shot in St. Louis’ 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Estrada said he threw a curveball — a pitch he didn’t want to throw — to Jay.
“It’s not frustrating to give up runs, it’s going to happen, but it’s frustrating that I threw pitches I didn’t want to throw,” he said. “I second-guessed myself and I got beat really bad on the one to Jay. I threw a pitch I didn’t want to throw. There was no conviction behind it. I made the pitch and I got hurt.”
Beltran snapped an 0-for-7 skid with his 21st home run in the first. He had three hits.