Cardinals 7, Brewers 6 (10 innings): Bullpen squanders opportunities

Tom Lynn

Sometimes an epic comeback just opens the door for another collapse.

W: John Axford (7-7)
L:  Michael Blazek (0-1)
S: Carlos Martinez (1)

HR: Aramis Ramirez (11), Matt Adams (15)

MVP: Aramis Ramirez (+.441 WPA)
LVP: Carlos Gomez (-.433)

Win Expectancy Graph
Box Score

The Brewers took a lead into the seventh inning tonight, blew it, then came back to tie the game in the ninth but still managed to lose to the Cardinals for the 13th time in 17 tries. St. Louis took the lead for good on Carlos Beltran's sac fly off Michael Blazek in the tenth.

Just a few days after Ron Roenicke said he was done using Michael Gonzalez in high leverage spots, he put Gonzalez into tonight's game to protect a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning. He retired one batter before allowing back-to-back doubles that were a combined three feet or so from being back-to-back home runs. Brandon Kintzler was called in to bail him out but couldn't keep the tying run from crossing the plate. Kintzler then worked his way into more trouble in the eighth, but Jim Henderson got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

Henderson, however, went back out to pitch the ninth and allowed a walk and a long home run to Matt Adams to give the Cardinals the lead.

The Brewers rallied against Edward Mujica in the ninth, chasing him from the game and adding a layer of intrigue: It took three and a half hours to get there, but John Axford's first game as an opposing pitcher at Miller Park turned out to be a memorable one. He was called in to protect a one-run lead for the Cardinals with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, allowed an infield single to Aramis Ramirez to tie the game, then got Carlos Gomez to ground into a 5-2-3 double play. He was credited with his first win as a Cardinal after St. Louis rallied to retake the lead in the tenth.

Hours earlier, the Brewers finally found a way to get to Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller tonight in their fifth 2013 opportunity. Aramis Ramirez took him deep for a three-run shot in the first inning to give the Brewers the lead. Ramirez also plated another run in the fifth with a sac fly, and the game-tying run in the ninth with an infield single. He almost picked up another RBI in the seventh, but Norichika Aoki was thrown out trying to score on his single.

Aoki, by the way, was on base five times tonight. He had four hits and a walk, and scored a pair of runs.

Meanwhile, Johnny Hellweg pitched just well enough to preserve that cushion. He allowed RBI singles to Matt Holliday in the first and fifth innings, but spent the rest of the night working out of jams. He pitched the aforementioned five innings and allowed those two runs while scattering seven hits and five walks. He also hit a batter, so he's now tied for the team lead with six.

All told, Brewer pitchers allowed the leadoff batter to reach eight times in ten innings (h/t @Todd_Rosiak). Four of those batters came around to score. Four Brewer relievers (Gonzalez, Kintzler, Henderson and Blazek) combined for -.792 WPA tonight.

This series continues tomorrow night when Yovani Gallardo takes on Lance Lynn at 6:10.

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