As hitting streaks go, Rafael Furcal's is modest by any standard. In crafting a six-game skein, the new Cardinals shortstop has had only seven hits in 28 at-bats, which is a .250 average.

While that may seem pedestrian, Furcal was batting just .205 when the streak started. Now he is all the way up to .207.

But in his one-hit-a-night pace, Furcal came up with a monster shot in the Cardinals' first inning Thursday night. After the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, smelling blood in the water, had jumped on Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter for two runs in the top of the first, Furcal opened the bottom of the inning with a 405-foot homer to right.

"That was a nice answer," manager Tony La Russa said.

That momentum-turner was matched by Albert Pujols' homer one out later and the Cardinals were on their way to a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, leaving them four games behind the Brewers in the National League Central Division race instead of six back.

The leadoff homer was the 27th of his career for Furcal, who has 103 homers overall. But he said, "In my mind, I don't think I (needed to) hit a home run. I just tried to get on base to force the inning. I know the guys I've got behind me. But I put a good swing on that ball.

"(The home run) is not a big part of my game. I know I'm struggling a little bit. Sometimes I get a hit my first at-bat and then the other three, I don't do anything. That's happened a lot.

"But I'll keep working hard and some day will come more hits."