The end of a seven-game losing streak lifted the spirits of the Milwaukee Brewers.
An 11-2 win Sunday over the St. Louis Cardinals gave manager Ron Roenicke’s team a one-game lead in the National League Central at the All-Star break. A team that has also had to cope with the death of shortstop Jean Segura’s 9-month-old son now gets a breather for a few days.
With Segura home on bereavement leave, Elian Herrera had a career-best five hits a day after being called up from the minors to take Segura’s roster spot. The offense tied a season high with 19 hits to back a strong seven-inning outing by starter Wily Peralta.
"Somebody had to step up. … That’s huge for us, for everybody. It lets us go into the break like that and still in first place," said Peralta (10-6), who allowed three hits and struck out five before departing after seven innings because of a minor leg cramp.
Like Segura, Peralta is from the Dominican Republic. The pitcher was heading home for the break, and he was planning to text Roenicke to let him know how Segura was doing.
The morning started with the Brewers organization holding its annual Family Day outing, when players and coaches can bring their children to the ballpark. Players were smiling alongside their sons and daughters on a sunny afternoon, and Roenicke hoped the day would create a diversion from the team’s roughest patch of the season.
All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he thought the family time possibly helped the squad.
"But it doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing whenever you’re with your family," Lucroy said. "It is a business and it is a job we have to perform, but ultimately the goal is to provide for our family, and family is most important."
Peralta allowed just three singles and gave up his only run after Kolten Wong reached first on a passed ball despite striking out. Wong eventually scored on Matt Adams’ groundout.
Peralta got a defensive boost with a runner on base in the fifth when left fielder Khris Davis made an over-the-shoulder catch on Jon Jay’s fly to the warning track with a man on first.
"I had to step in like an extra gear … just kind of a lucky play," Davis said. "A big play with the runner on first, he’s probably going to score."
Davis hit his team-high 15th homer in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-1 lead.
For the Cardinals, a frustrated Carlos Martinez (2-4) allowed four runs in four innings.
Making his seventh career start, Martinez gave up three walks and a balk while also hitting Carlos Gomez with a pitch in the fourth. Gomez then scored on Scooter Gennett’s two-out, two-run double down the left-field line for a 4-1 lead.
Martinez flicked his head back in frustration as he watched the ball take a tricky carom off the side wall on outfielder Matt Holliday.
An inning earlier, Martinez tossed his bat behind his back in the direction of home plate after grounding out, leading umpire Jeff Nelson to raise his arms and stare at the 22-year-old pitcher for a few seconds.
"I tried to throw the bat to the ground. I don’t know if it was emotion," Martinez said through an interpreter. "I went to the umpire and said I was sorry. It was just frustration."
Manager Mike Matheny said Martinez was having a tough time "finding anything."
"He’s trying to harness his emotions a little bit, which will harness his control," Matheny said. "It was a rough day for him. It’s one of those learning points."
Milwaukee added three runs off the Cardinals bullpen to stretch the lead to 8-1 in a sixth-inning burst started by Herrera’s double. The Brewers are in first place at the All-Star break for just the fourth time in franchise history.
NOTES: Matheny said ace Adam Wainwright could pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star game despite going seven innings in Saturday’s win over Milwaukee. Tuesday would be scheduled to throw in between starts. Matheny will manage the National League. … Gennett tied a career high with three hits. … Matheny said he wasn’t sure yet how he would set up the Cardinals rotation after the All-Star break. St. Louis hosts the Dodgers on Friday. … Milwaukee doesn’t plan to make any changes in its rotation, meaning Kyle Lohse (9-4) would get the start Friday in Washington.