Cardinals squander numerous chances in 12-inning loss to Brewers

You know the loss stings when even Mike Matheny struggles to stay positive after the game. From up 3-0 through six to down 5-3 following the final out in the 12th, Monday night's setback to the Brewers was a tough pill to swallow for the Cardinals.

Matt Holliday and the Cardinals suffered a frustrating loss in the opener of a three-game set with the Brew Crew at Busch.

Jeff Curry / USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS -- Even Cardinals manager and eternal optimist Mike Matheny said his team's 5-3, 12-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night was difficult to deal with.

"It's tough as one we've had this year, for sure," Matheny said. "Not very often that we get a three-run lead here recently and then not to be able to hold it, (plus) having a couple of other chances. It's a tough one."

Besides losing a 3-0 lead they held after six innings, other reasons for the Cardinals' frustration included:

-- Second-year reliever Seth Maness continued to scuffle as he took the loss after allowing a double, triple and two runs in the 12th. A ground-ball-producing machine last year, Maness induced only one grounder from the five batters he faced.

-- Matt Holliday led off the 10th with a double, but Peter Bourjos' attempt at a sacrifice was too hard and Holliday was caught between second and third, effectively thwarting a chance for a winning rally.

-- The Cardinals had runners on second and third with one out in the ninth, but Randal Grichuk, in his big-league debut, lined out to the shortstop and after a Brewers error allowed the Cardinals to load the bases, Jon Jay grounded out to second.

 

 

-- The Cardinals also put two on in the 12th with two out but Jhonny Peralta ended the game with a fly to center.

-- The Brewers were not close to full strength. Their best player, Ryan Braun (oblique), is not expected to play in the series and their All-Star shortstop, Jean Segura, was out after inadvertently taking a bat to the face when Braun was loosening on Saturday. Milwaukee also lost its cleanup hitter, Aramis Ramirez (bruised elbow), when he left the game after twice being hit by a pitch.

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-- Michael Wacha's strikeouts. Allowing five consecutive Brewers to reach in the seventh cost him a win, ended his night and raised his ERA all the way to 2.48. But Wacha still dominated much of the evening. He struck out nine, including Khris Davis three times, to give him 19 strikeouts in his past 10 1/3 innings and 44 in 36 1/3 innings for the season. Coming into his sixth start, hitters had whiffed on an astounding 28 percent of the pitches they had swung at against the tall right-hander. By comparison, hitters have whiffed at a 19.1 percent rate against Adam Wainwright (and 33.1 percent against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez).

-- Allen Craig. When he flailed at a slider for strike two in his second at-bat, he did not look close to emerging from his season-long funk. But on the next pitch, he got the kind of break that has busted many slumps when he beat out a slow roller down the third-base line. In his next at-bat, Craig drilled a 2-0 slider into the left-center bleachers for his second home run of the season. He then drew two walks to reach base four times for the first time this season.   

-- Brewers-Cardinals rivalry. Three times the Brewers were hit by a pitch, and even though they were unintentional -- based on the game situation -- they won't likely be forgotten. With Kyle Lohse, who had a problem with his former team in a start in St. Louis last season, scheduled to start Tuesday night, don't be surprised if he seeks some retaliation.

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-- Jon Jay. Since he reclaimed the center-field job -- unofficially, that is -- his bat has cooled considerably. An 0 for 6 on Monday stretched a hitless streak to 14 at-bats and dropped his batting average to .242. After driving in seven runs in his first 10 games, Jay has only two RBIs in his past 13. He had a chance to drive in a big one when he batted in the ninth with the bases loaded, but a groundout to second sent the game to extra innings.

-- Matheny's replay challenges. He's 0 for 2 after his failed attempt to have a close play at first overturned in the sixth inning. Matheny didn't even appear to wait for the signal from the dugout before issuing a challenge when Yovani Gallardo was called safe on a bang-banger after hitting a slow roller to third. Matheny had little reason not to challenge since it's gone, anyway, if not used in the first six innings.

-- Kolten Wong. Matheny said the demoted rookie's swing had gotten too long. GM John Mozeliak pointed to Wong's approach. "Look at the other night where he had four ground balls and saw six pitches," Mozeliak said. (Wong grounded out four times but actually saw five pitches in his final at-bat after four in his first three.)

Both manager and GM said Wong should benefit from being able to straighten out his swing in the lower-pressure environment in the minors. "Up here, there's no time for breaks," Mozeliak said. "Your foot has to be on the pedal every day. We felt like for him to switch the trajectory of his season would be better in Memphis."

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.