MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers had finally solved the Adam Wainwright puzzle. But yet again, they just couldn’t find a way to put the St. Louis Cardinals away.
A pitcher that has long tormented the Brewers, Wainwright was finally vulnerable against Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon, as the Brewers scored three times against him in the sixth inning to take the lead and chase him from the game.
But as they have done all too often against the Brewers, the Cardinals found a way to battle back not once but twice. Light hitting Daniel Descalso hit his first home run of the season to give the Cardinals the lead in the seventh inning, only to watch the Brewers tie it in the eighth.
Then in the ninth, St. Louis capitalized on an error and went ahead on a Jon Jay single to win 7-6, their fifth victory over the Brewers in six games this season.
“Tough game to lose,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I felt we should have won the game.
“We did a real nice job offensively against Wainwright, and the pieces were set up for our pitchers to have good matchups against them and they came through with some big hits.”
Ever since the 2011 National League Championship Series, the Cardinals seem to have Milwaukee’s number. The Brewers are 9-18 against the Cardinals dating back to the NLCS, and this year it seems as if St. Louis simply has an answer for everything the Brewers do.
After taking the lead in the sixth inning, the Brewers had left-hander Tom Gorzelanny in the game facing the left-handed hitting Descalso. Prior to Saturday, Descalso had just one home run in 195 career plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.
Now he has two. And Saturday’s was a big blow to the Brewers.
“It was set up perfect for us,” Roenicke said. “They double switched and had a left-hander up there, and Gorzelanny is coming into the game. He’s been pitching so well and getting all the left-handers out. Descalso got a slider and put one over the fence.”
It would be even more puzzling if St. Louis weren’t a good team, but the Cardinals are proving again why it’s foolish to pick against them in the division. Armed with one of the best rotations in baseball and a lineup that consistently finds ways to score runs, St. Louis is the definition of a good team doing the little things and taking advantage of breaks to win.
With the Brewers up, 2-0, in the second inning, Cardinals third baseman David Freese hit a ball back at Yovani Gallardo that the right-hander said after the game was “routine” for a double play. It also would have been an easy turn for shortstop Jean Segura, but Gallardo reacted instinctively and tipped the ball, preventing the Brewers from getting any outs.
Per usual, Jay stepped up next and crushed a 2-0 pitch from Gallardo for a three-run home run that put St. Louis ahead, 3-2.
“It’s frustrating,” Gallardo said. “It was one of those things where if I catch it, it’s an easy double play, or if I get out of the way Siggy is right behind me. It doesn’t help that I fell behind the next guy and I left a pitch out over the zone and he hit it for a home run.”
At that point, Wainwright usually has enough to beat the Brewers. This time around, Milwaukee battled offensively and kept putting runners on base before Jonathan Lucroy delivered a pinch hit two-run single to give Milwaukee the lead.
Even after Descalso’s home run, the Brewers fought back and tied the game on a safety squeeze by Norichika Aoki in the eighth inning. In on a double switch, Shane Robinson led off the ninth with a single off Jim Henderson that Carlos Gomez juggled in center field for an error, allowing Robinson to scamper to second.
With Jay looking to bunt, a combination of Henderson’s high leg kick and Bianchi playing in for the bunt allowed Robinson to easily steal third. That allowed Jay to hit away and he drove a single up the middle that proved to be the difference.
“They have a good team,” Gallardo said. “They have a little bit of everything. They can hit for power and average. It seems like they keep battling and they make you work and make the pitchers work. It’s one of those things that you can only do it for a certain amount of time.”
Quickly getting a reputation as a streaky team, the Brewers are going to have to find a way to beat St. Louis if they are going to stick around in the race for the postseason. Through six head-to-head meetings this season, the Cardinals have simply been the better team.
In a matter of four days, the Brewers have gone from feeling good about themselves and just a half game back of first place to 4-1/2 games back after a loss to Pittsburgh and three losses to the Cardinals.
“They are outplaying us,” Roenicke said of St. Louis. “There’s no doubt. Every person on their team, when they put them in there, they do a good job.”