While they have been playing good both at and away from Busch Stadium, it’s no doubt the St. Louis Cardinals are playing much better baseball at home. Entering Wednesday’s game, the Cardinals were a Major League Baseball best 21-7 at home.
And now, they are 22-7 at home.
St. Louis defeated Milwaukee in the rubber game of a three-game series 7-4, and once again won another series at home. In fact, St. Louis has not lost a home series all season, and is 21-5 at Busch Stadium against National League opponents.
The pitching match-up for Wednesday afternoons’ game featured John Lackey (3-3, 2.83) for the Cardinals, who has been on a hot streak as of late, against Jimmy Nelson (2-5, 3.90) for the last place Brewers.
In the first inning, after a strikeout by Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra hit a sharp single, bringing up Carlos Gomez with one out. Gomez flied out to right fielder Jason Heyward. Adam Lind then singled, this time with two outs, but Jonathan Lucroy could not capitalize, ending the threat.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, started scoring fast and early. Kolten Wong led off with a double, and Matt Carpenter singled. Following that, Matt Holliday walked, loading the bases for shortstop Jhonny Peralta. And Peralta put St. Louis on the board with a single to center field, scoring Wong and keeping the bases loaded.
As for Randal Grichuk, he reached base on a fielding error by Hector Gomez at third base, scoring Carpenter. First baseman Mark Reynolds kept the scoring train rolling by singling to center field, scoring Holliday. The first out of the inning finally occurred when Yadier Molina flied out, but it was a sacrifice fly, as Peralta scored to make it 4-0 Cardinals. Heyward flied out as well, hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Grichuk, as St. Louis took a 5-0 lead. Lackey struck out afterwards, but the damage had already been done.
Both Lackey and Nelson pitched a shutout second inning, but in the top of the third, the Brewers finally got on the board when Parra hit a solo home run (his third home run of the season), and cuts the Cardinals lead to 5-1.
But St. Louis increased their lead to five an inning and a half later.
After back to back singles by Molina and Heyward, Lackey walked to load the bases for Wong. While he popped out, Carpenter ended up hitting a single to right field, scoring Molina and Heyward. Holliday followed with a strikeout, and Peralta flied out to center field, but heading into the fifth, St. Louis had themselves a 7-1 lead over the Brewers.
Despite allowing two singles in the top of the fifth, including one from Nelson, Lackey kept the Brewers from scoring in the inning. After Nelson held the Cardinals scoreless in the bottom half of the fifth, the teams headed to the sixth inning with Milwaukee still trailing by six. After a lead off double by Lucroy, H. Gomez doubled to cut the Cardinals lead to five runs. But Lackey ended the inning with a strikeout of Hernan Perez.
Milwaukee once again added a run in the seventh when a ground out by Lind scored Segura, who led off with a single earlier.
The 36-year old Lackey, who is known for being an innings eater, pitched until the top of the eighth inning, where reliever Seth Maness replaced him on the mound. The final line of the game for Lackey: 7.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Maness only allowed a lead off single to Shane Peterson, but other than that base hit, the Brewers were put down in order.
Down 7-3 in the top of the ninth, the Brewers scored one more run with closer Trevor Rosenthal on the mound. After Mitch Harris started the inning, both Parra and Gomez reached base, although one was on Reynolds making a fielding error. Rosenthal was brought in with one out already, and Lind singled Parra home to make it 7-4. But for the second game in a row, a double play induced by Rosenthal ended the game, as the Cardinals won 7-4 and took the series.
The win improves Lackey to 4-3, and the Cardinals to 35-18. Milwaukee meanwhile, drops to 18-36 on the season, and are now 17.5 games behind first place St. Louis.
Tomorrow, in game one of a four game series in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, Michael Wacha will get the start.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)