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Nelson struggles, Brewers drop series to Cardinals with 6-4 loss

Jimmy Nelson struggled in the loss, as the Cardinals went back above the Brewers in the standings.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Mike Leake (3-1)
LP: Jimmy Nelson (1-1)
SV: Seung Hwan Oh (5)

HR: Manny Pina (1)

Box Score

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

With the Brewers 6-4 loss today, they are back behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. They’re still ahead of the Pirates, though only by percentage points. The Brewers had an opportunity in this series to exorcise some of those demons they’ve faced against the Cardinals recently, but instead, the Cardinals continued their dominance against the Brewers, who are now 25-55 since 2013 against them.

The Brewers had the lead first in every game in this series. They had it again today when Ryan Braun doubled in Eric Thames in the first inning, and had the opportunity for more. Unfortunately, Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar grounded out and lined out to end the inning.

Then, the comedy of errors picked back up in the third inning. After Kolten Wong got a bunt single to start the inning, he stole second. Eric Fryer grounded out, and Manny Pina had an excellent throw to pick Wong off second base. Nelson had a clear path out of the inning, but a fielding error by Shaw allowed pitcher Leake to reach base. After a walk to Dexter Fowler, Aledmys Diaz singled to drive Leake in, tying the game at 1-1.

The Brewers did get the lead back right away thanks to some small ball. Jonathan Villar drew a walk to lead off the third, then went to third base on a Thames single. After Braun grounded out, Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to score Villar, giving the Brewers a 2-1 lead.

It all fell apart for Nelson in the fourth. Back-to-back walks to Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk started the inning. After a flyout from Greg Garcia, Woong doubled to score Piscotty and put Grichuk at third. Another walk put Fryer on base, and Leaker singled, driving in Grichuk and Wong. Nelson would limit the damage there, but the Cardinals had built their lead to 4-2.

Jimmy Nelson had struggled in the past against the Cardinals, and those struggles continued today. In 5.1 innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and six walks. He did strike out five in the game, but he definitely didn’t have his good stuff today.

We did get a reprieve from the frustration of playing the Cardinals in the seventh inning. Brent Suter struck Matt Carpenter out, Carpenter didn’t like the call, and let umpire John Tumpane know it. Carpenter was ejected, and manager Mike Matheny came out to argue and promptly followed Carpenter out. Jose Martinez came in to replace Carpenter for the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals weren’t fazed by the ejections. Facing Jared Hughes in the eighth, Grichuk had a one out double, and then intentionally walked Wong to put runners at first and second with two outs. Fryer hit an RBI single to score Grichuk, and pinch hitter Matt Adams singled to score Wong, extending the lead to 6-2.

The Brewers had a chance to tie or win the game in the ninth thanks to a late rally. Manny Pina led off the ninth with a solo home run off of Jonathan Broxton. Keon Broxton followed that by reaching on a fielding error by Diaz. The Cardinals promptly countered with closer Seung Hwan Oh, and the Brewers countered back with Hernan Perez. He drew a walk to put runners at first and second, and Domingo Santana followed him with a pinch-hit appearances, where he struck out. Villar hit an RBI single to close the game to 6-4, putting the tying run at first in Villar, and the winning run at the plate. Unfortunately, Thames struck out, and Braun flew out on the first pitch he saw to end the game.

On offense, Villar reached base three times with a hit and two walks. Braun went 2-for-5, and was the only Brewer to record multiple hits. Manny Pina had a nice game, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a great throw to pick off Kolten Wong.

Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t keep the game close for the Brewers. The main culprit was Hughes, who allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the eighth inning. Jhan Marinez, Brent Suter, and Neftali Feliz also made appearances in the game, with each allowing no runs.

Next up at Miller Park are the second-place Reds, who come in for three games. Matt Garza makes his return from the DB and his season debut in Monday’s game, facing Reds starter Amir Garrett. First pitch is at 6:40 pm, and the game will be on Fox Sports Wisconsin.