ST. LOUIS - A day after the St. Louis Cardinals ended their second eight-game losing streak this season, Jeff Suppan kept them from starting a new one.
Suppan allowed four hits in 7 1/3 innings and Juan Encarnacion hit a three-run homer, helping the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 Sunday.
"Everybody should be feeling more comfortable at this point," Encarnacion said. "There's no better feeling than when you win."
Scott Rolen added a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who took two of three from the Brewers and are 17-8 against them the last two seasons. St. Louis leads the NL Central by 3½ games entering a four-game series at second-place Cincinnati.
"If you look at our season, we've done more good things than bad," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I think we're coping with it really well. But believe me, you don't have those two losing streaks and guys are whistling 'What's the big deal?"'
Suppan (9-6) matched his season high with seven strikeouts and walked one, allowing only three singles before Mike Rivera homered leading off the eighth. He is 12-2 with a 3.53 ERA against the Brewers, including 5-0 since the start of 2005, but noted he allowed five runs in four innings against them on June 11.
"I know I've had some good games against them," Suppan said. "But my last outing they really took a different approach and got quite a few runs off me."
It was a frustrating day for Brewers manager Ned Yost. Suppan retired 18 of the first 21 batters.
"He handcuffed us," Yost said. "We got him the last time a little bit."
Jorge Sosa, acquired from Atlanta on July 31, got five outs for his first save with the Cardinals and his fourth in seven chances this season.
Chris Capuano (10-8) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings, and is 0-4 in five starts since beating the Chicago Cubs on July 6. Capuano fell to 4-2 against the Cardinals overall and 3-1 in St. Louis.
"I was just trying to hold them as long as I could and give our team a chance to score some runs," Capuano said. "After the second inning, I really only made two bad pitches. It's definitely frustrating from that standpoint."
Ronnie Belliard singled with one out and scored on So Taguchi's double in the second to give the Cardinals the lead. Taguchi entered 3-for-18 against Capuano.
Encarnacion hit his 16th homer off a 1-0 changeup with one out in the sixth for a 4-0 lead, his first homer since July 27.
"I didn't hit it that well," Encarnacion said. "But well enough to get a homer."
Rolen hit a two-run homer, his first in 77 at-bats since July 9, in the eighth against Derrick Turnbow. Suppan doubled in the seventh and has a hit in his last three starts.
Notes The Cardinals are 23-25 against the NL Central. The last time they had a losing record in the division was 1999. … The Brewers are 31-26 from Monday through Thursday and 21-33 the rest of the week after wrapping up a 2-4 trip. … Albert Pujols was 2-for-3 against Capuano and singled ahead of Encarnacion's homer. He's 8-for-15 against Capuano.