One day removed from an emotional 3-1 victory over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, the first place St. Louis Cardinals continued their long home-stand by playing the last place Milwaukee Brewers in the first of a three game series on Monday night.
And in a battle of National League Central rivals, the Brewers came out on top.
On a cool, cloudy night at Busch Stadium, the pitching match-up for the game was Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.46) for the Cardinals, and in place of Matt Garza, Mike Fiers (1-5, 4.53) for the Brewers.
Milwaukee got on the board first, and did so early in the top of the first inning. Jean Segura led off the game with a single to right field, and later advanced to second after Ryan Braun grounded out. Segura then scored after Carlos Gomez singled to left field, which gave the Brewers a quick 1-0 lead over Garcia and the Cardinals. But that would be the only run scored in the top of the inning.
The bottom of the first started with Kolten Wong extending his lead-off hit streak to seven games. Matt Carpenter followed with a fly out, with Matt Holliday up next. And with a walk issued by Fiers, Holliday officially reached base in 45 straight games to reach the season, which is eight shy of tying Derek Jeter’s record set in 1999.
But the Cardinals were unable to score in the inning, as Jhonny Peralta struck out, and Yadier Molina grounded out to end the first inning.
In the top of the second inning, Garcia bounced back from the rough start earlier, getting Jason Rogers to line out, striking out Gerardo Parra, and getting Luis Sardinas to ground out. Jason Heyward started the bottom of the second inning fouling out to the first baseman Rogers, but Mark Reynolds followed with a single to right field.
Jon Jay grounded into a fielder’s choice, as Reynolds got out at second, and Garcia flied out to end the inning, as after two inning, the Brewers were leading the Cardinals 1-0.
Garcia headed back to the mound to start the third inning, and once again, pitched a strong 1-2-3 inning, which started by striking out Fiers, and getting Segura and Lucroy to hit back-to-back ground-outs to end the top half. Fiers, however, did his part in continuing to shut down the Cardinals’ bats, with Wong lining out, and back-to-back strikeouts by Carpenter and Holliday.
The pitcher’s duel between Garcia and Fiers raged on through the next three innings, with only two hits being garnered between both teams as the game headed into the seventh inning, and both hits were by the Cardinals: a fourth inning single by Peralta, and a sixth inning infield single by Molina.
Garcia continued to pitch well against the Brewers until the top of the eighth inning, in which Randy Choate entered the game to replace him before it even started. The final line of the night for Garcia: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Choate, meanwhile, got Parra out, before Matt Belisle entered the game in relief for Choate, as his job was done.
Sardinas and Elian Herrera both singled off Belisle with one out, but Segura flied out, and Lucroy grounded out to end the threat, with the Brewers stranding two runners, but still holding a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals. The bottom of the eighth featured Neal Cotts on the mound for the Brewers, replacing Jonathan Broxton, who replaced Fiers on the mound.
Wong led off the inning with a single, and, after a strikeout of Carpenter, Jeremy Jeffress entered the game to face Holliday. And Holliday made Jeffress pay by hitting a single which put runners at the corner with one out. Peralta then stepped up to the plate with a chance to give the Cardinals the lead. But Jeffress struck him out, bringing up Molina with two outs. But as with Peralta, Molina struck out as well, ending the inning and the threat. As the top of the ninth began, Belisle pitched much better, as he only allowed a single to Adam Lind.
With Francisco Rodriguez on the mound to pitch the bottom of the ninth, Heyward led off with a single, bringing up Reynolds, who struck out. Jon Jay then stepped up to bat with one out. While Jay struck out, Heyward advanced to second, with Peter Bourjos coming to the plate with two outs as the tying run was on second base. In a patient at-bat, Bourjos walked, as Wong stepped up to bat.
After a close pick-off attempt at second, Wong eventually grounded out to end the game, as Milwaukee won 1-0.
The loss drops the Cardinals to 33-18, and the Brewers improve to 18-34.
Tomorrow, Lance Lynn will take the mound for the Cardinals.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)