Corbin Burnes, Julio Teheran (3-5) and Ethan Small combined on a six-hitter for the NL Central champions. Burnes struck out four and walked one in four innings in his final postseason tuneup, throwing 39 of his 66 pitches for strikes.
The Brewers (90-69) reinstated Mitchell from the 60-day injured list. The 24-year-old Mitchell, a 2020 first-round pick, hurt his left shoulder on a slide into third base on April 18. He had surgery in May to repair a torn labrum, and it was thought at that time that a return at any point this season would be improbable.
“I was trying to put good at-bats together, swinging at the right pitches and taking the bad ones. It felt good to go up there and see some success today," Mitchell said. “More than anything, I’m just happy that I made it back and I’m healthy.”
Mitchell led off the third with a double off the wall in left on Dakota Hudson's first pitch of the inning. Christian Yelich then hit an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
“I was looking for something over the plate, something I could drive to left field," Mitchell said.
The Brewers reached 90 wins for the third time in the last six seasons.
St. Louis lost its 90th game for the first time since going 70-92 in 1990. In addition to that 1990 season, the Cardinals are assured of finishing in last place for only the second time since 1918.
Hudson (6-3) was charged with three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. He struck out three and walked three.
“Overall, behind in the count. Didn't really have the feel for his slider,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said.
Yelich also doubled and scored on William Contreras' single in the first. Contreras extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
The Brewers added another run when Carlos Santana scampered home on Willy Adames' double-play grounder in the sixth.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Juniel Querecuto lined to shortstop and Burnes fanned Masyn Winn to reach 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive season.
“It’s pretty cool but that’s never a goal going into each season, looking at the results side of it," Burnes said. "For me, it’s about each start doing what I can to help the team win.”
After Burnes departed, Teheran pitched four innings. Small, making his fourth major league appearance, got three outs for his first career save.
Small said he wasn't expecting to get the call to close the game.
“I got really excited and shook off some rust and some nerves and was happy to come away with a good outing," he said.
The Brewers designated infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson for assignment to make room for Mitchell.
Contreras has four hitting streaks of 10 or more games this season. He is the first Brewer to accomplish that feat since Norichika Aoki in 2012.
Cardinals: 1B Paul Goldschmidt sat out for a second consecutive game but is expected to be back in the lineup for the weekend series at home, Marmol said.
Cardinals: RHP Jake Woodford (2-2, 5.09 ERA) takes the mound when St. Louis hosts Cincinnati on Friday night.
Brewers: Host the Cubs on Friday in the opener of a three-game set to end the regular season. Colin Rea (6-6, 4.74 ERA) gets the start for Milwaukee.
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