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Brewers gut out 6-4 win over Cards; within 1.5 of Cubs

After Josh Hader falters, offense and bullpen bail him out

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals
There’s Eric Thames scoring the game winner, folks!
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

WP: Corbin Burnes (7-0) LP: Bud Norris (3-6); Save: Corey Knebel (16); Homeruns: Mil - Ryan Braun (16); StL - Jose Martinez (17), Marcell Ozuna (23)

Look out Cubs, here’s a Box Score

Wow. Great win for the Milwaukee Brewers (90-67) (Hey, does that say 90 wins? Yes...yes it does) over the St. Louis Cardinals (87-70) in the face of some unexpected adversity, some unique pitcher usage, some more bad weather complete with a half hour rain delay, and in the end, some poor play by the Cards. The final was 6-4.

The Brewers used an opener for the first time, and Dan Jennings did his job; he retired Matt Carpenter for the first out. After that, eight more pitchers worked and the back end really picked up the slack as the offense pushed runs across the plate in their final four at bats to put the Redbirds behind Milwaukee by 3 games, and moving within 1.5 of the Chicago Cubs - who lost at Wrigley to our friends, the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-1.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on a homerun into the third deck in left by Ryan Braun off of St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty.

After Jennings got the first out, Freddy Peralta was a somewhat surprising choice for the second pitcher. Freddy finished the first and had a perfect second, but allowed a one out single to Yairo Munoz in the third, then a double deep into the gap in right center to Carpenter to tie things up in the third. Freddy worked through the fourth inning and left with things still knotted up at one.

Flaherty again was very effective against Brewer bats until the top of the sixth. Lorenzo Cain’s bid for his third straight hit was thwarted by a fine play on a hot grounder down the third base line by Jedd Gyorko, and then Flaherty just lost his control. He walked Christian Yelich, then hit Jesus Aguilar, and walked Travis Shaw to load the bases up. That was it for Jack, but reliever Dakota Hudson issued another walk to Braun to force in the lead run. Mike Moustakas hit a fairly shallow flyball to leftfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna has had shoulder issues and can’t throw, so Aguilar was able to score...just ahead of Shaw getting tagged out after he stopped while going to third. The Brewers had two runs on no hits for the inning, and led 3-1.

Josh Hader had struck out Carpenter for the final out of the fifth, and came out for the sixth with Milwaukee ahead by two. Things didn’t go well; Jose Martinez led off with a homerun, Paul DeJong walked, and Ozuna lined another homerun out to left center to put the Cardinals up 4-3. The onslaught was so sudden that nobody was up in the pen, but it was painfully obvious that Josh just didn’t have it. He faced four more hitters, getting the first two, but then Harrison Bader doubled, Munoz walked, and Josh was done. Junior Guerra got the final out in the sixth, but the Redbirds led 4-3.

Triple digit reliever Jordan Hicks had the seventh, and Manny Pina poked a two strike single into right leading off the inning. Keon Broxton pinch ran, and moved to second on an infield out by Orlando Arcia. Curtis Granderson (in on a double switch with Guerra in the sixth) did his thing, drawing a walk. Then Lo Cain walked, too. That loaded them up for Christian Yelich, and it looked like Yeli would give the Crew the lead back on a bouncer up the middle, but shortstop DeJong made a great play on the ball and his two hop back-handed flip to second just got Cain for the second out. Broxton scored, though, so the game was tied up at 4-4.

Xavier Cedeno came on in the bottom half of the seventh for Carpenter and got him on a flyball to center. That brought on Corbin Burnes...except that the game was stopped for the rain delay before Burnes could throw a pitch. The delay was only a half hour, and when play resumed Arcia dropped a liner right at him and Martinez beat the throw to first, and was oddly awarded a hit. DeJong was caught looking for a strikeout, and Ozuna lined one to third that was also dropped, this time by Moustakas, but Moose was able to throw out Marcell after he stopped, thinking the ball was caught. Jeesh.

Since Burnes is a Winner, Milwaukee seemed sure to score the go-ahead run in the eighth to give him his seventh win in as many decisions, and they did. Facing Bud Norris with one down, pinch-hitter Eric Thames looped a liner to right center that Martinez couldn’t catch up to. He sorta half dove, and the ball went past him and all the way to the wall for a Thamesian triple. Moustakas was intentionally walked to set up a double play opportunity with Erik Kratz at the plate. Good strategy. What wasn’t good strategy was Norris’ pick-off attempt with Moose on first...the throw hit Mike in the ribs and rolled away, and Thames scored without a throw to put Milwaukee up 5-4. Kratz then blooped a single into center that sent Moustakas to third (and made the run earned), but no more runs would score.

Milwaukee added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a single by Cain and an RBI double down the leftfield line by Yelich.

Joakim Soria had a fine eighth, with St. Louis going down in order with two K’s. Corey Knebel locked down his 16th save in the ninth, striking out the side around a hit batter (Carpenter...maybe). The final out was a good battle with Martinez, who fouled off several high fastballs before Corey dropped a hammer on the outside corner (maybe) for strike three. Ballgame; Brewers win!

The series continues tomorrow night, same Bat Time; same Bat Station. Gio Gonzalez will make his fourth start for the Crew. Overall this season Gio is 9-11 with a 4.28 ERA, but for the Crew he’s 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA. He has a WHIP of just 0.92. The Cards answer with Austin Gomber, who is 6-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

Game Notes:

  • Closer Jeremy Jeffress was unavailable due to neck spasms tonight, and is day to day.
  • The Rockies won tonight, so they trail the Cards by just a half game for the last Wild Card spot. They trail the Brewers by 3.5 games. The Crew’s magic number for the top Wild Card spot is four, and for a Wild Card spot it’s three.
  • Chris Archer goes for the Pirates tomorrow, against Mike Montgomery for Chicago.
  • Cain had three hits and a walk, and is up to a .312 batting average. Yelich sits at .321 after a 1 for 4 night, and now has 98 RBI. Ben Zobrist was an 0-fer; he’s at .311. Scoots was off, and is at .315.
  • Once again, the end-of-game pen was really good, only this time it didn’t involve Hader (poor early outing) or Jeffress (health). But Cedeno, Burnes, Soria, and Knebel worked the final three, allowing one hit and one hit batter, no runs, and striking out six.