WP: Jimmy Nelson (9-5); LP: Carlos Martinez (7-9); Save: Corey Knebel (19); Homeruns: none
The St. Louis Cardinals managed seven hits and two walks against four Brewer pitchers at Miller Park tonight, and it produced only two runs. Six of the hits came against Brewers’ starter Jimmy Nelson in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, but a huge play at the plate kept that total at two and the Brewers in the lead.
Kolten Wang led off the top of the third for the Cards with a base hit, and Randall Grichuk followed with a double into the gap in left center. Wang was sent home, but Ryan Braun’s throw to Orlando Arcia, and Arcia’s relay to catcher Manny Pina, nabbed Wang at the plate for the first out of the inning. Nelson fanned Cards’ starter Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter to end the inning.
Milwaukee took a lead in the bottom of the first, catching Martinez with apparently not enough warm-up pitches. Eric Sogard worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch and Eric Thames doubled down the first base line to put runners at second and third. Ryan Braun’s grounder to second put the Brewers up one. After Travis Shaw struck out, Domingo Santana singled up the middle to plate run number two, and Pina’s double to center drove in Domingo. A 3-0 lead was welcome. And it had to be enough...the Brewers collected just two more infield singles, and no more runs.
St. Louis turned lead-off singles in the fourth and fifth into single runs to bring the Cards within one, on two out RBIs from Yadier Molina and Tommy Pham. Nelson worked through the sixth, allowing six hits, a walk, the two earned runs, and striking out seven.
Jacob Barnes worked a very welcome perfect seventh, with a strikeout. Josh Hader faced Carpenter to lead off the eighth and walked him, but Andrew Swarzak relieved and struck out the next three.
Corey Knebel earned his nineteenth save, getting outs on two line drives and giving up a hit on an easy pop fly to left that Arcia inexplicably knocked away from Braun in medium left field. Knebel caught Wang looking on a fastball for the other out.
In all, the Cards struck out twelve times, and were caught looking five times. Besides their five hits, the Brewers drew eight walks, but only one of them came across to score. The Brewers were also adept at striking out - they went down eleven times, but keep in mind they only had eight innings to do so. One of the Brewers that struck out, Arcia, reached on a passed ball by Molina. Given an extra at bat, the Brewers surprisingly didn’t get an extra strikeout. In fact, pinch-hitter Lewis Brinson drilled one down the first bast line that Carpenter made a fine play on to end the inning.
With the Cubs cruising to a win over the D-Backs, Milwaukee (56-52) will remain 2½ games back and in second in the NL Central. (Jon Lester had a homer, for goodness sake.) Tomorrow night St. Louis (52-54) will send spot starter Luke Weaver (0-1, 4.50) out to face the Brewers’ Brent Suter (2-1, 2.40). Will the Brewer bats wake up against a non-ace?
Does Matt Carpenter dye his beard?