MILWAUKEE — In Kyle Lohse’s first three starts this season against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t score for him.
While Lohse entered Tuesday night with an 0-3 record and a 5.00 ERA against his former team this season, the Brewers had scored just two runs for him in three starts.
The tide turned Tuesday, as Lohse posted his 13th quality start in his last 16 outings and Milwaukee’s offense exploded for a five-run fourth inning en route to a 6-3 win over the Cardinals.
“He was mentally worn out after that one,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Lohse. “Physically he was, too, but he was mentally worn out after that one. And as a starting pitcher, I think you should be mentally exhausted after a ballgame. You think your way through it, you try to figure out how to get out a good lineup. Every hitter is a battle so you should be worn out.”
Heat of the moment frustrations caused Lohse to exchange words with Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo during his May 19th start in St. Louis. Lohse wouldn’t say what set him off, but that the Cardinals knew what he was talking about.
Though he wouldn’t admit it, Lohse likely took some satisfaction in beating his former team for the first time with the Brewers.
“It feels good,” Lohse said. “I don’t put any more emphasis on any one game over the other. I went out there and tried to do what I’ve been doing. The team did a great job battling back after I put us down in a little hole, and other than that it doesn’t mean any more beating them.
“I know we have a stretch here where we’re playing a lot of teams that are contending for playoff spots and I don’t care who it is — it feels good to kind of hurt teams’ chances.”
With the Cardinals up 1-0 in the fourth inning, Yadier Molina blasted a two-run home run to left to extend the St. Louis lead to 3-0. The home run gave Molina six hits in his first seven at-bats in the series, but Lohse and Roenicke credited the MVP candidate for hitting a good pitch.
“(Brewers pitching coach Rick) Kranitz went back and checked the pitch and said it was right where we wanted it,” Roenicke said. “He’s a pain to get out but Kyle thought he made a good pitch and he ends up hitting a home run on him. Other than that, he was good. His cutter and slider were really good, fastball was located well and he threw some nice change-ups.”
In an inning similar to the big eighth inning the Cardinals used to win Monday’s game, the Brewers singled St. Louis to death in the bottom of the fourth. Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez started the inning with base hits before Khris Davis reached on an error by Cardinals starter Lance Lynn to load the bases with nobody out.
Scooter Gennett hit a sharp single to center to score Lucroy, and Sean Halton followed with a ground ball back up the middle to score a pair and tie the game at 3-all.
The Brewers scored again on a Logan Schafer single and a sacrifice fly by Norichika Aoki to jump up 5-3.
“We hit some balls good that inning, we got some breaks that inning,” Roenicke said. “That certainly was huge. Against them, we don’t get many of those. Lynn was really good so to be able to do that in an inning, that was the game. And then we added on one more after that. That was a good job offensively.”
Getting a start at first base with Juan Francisco getting a day off, Halton capitalized on his opportunity further with an RBI single with two outs in the fifth to put the Brewers up 6-3.
“It felt good to get some hits, especially after Scooter got that one with the bases loaded,” Halton said. “It just feels good to contribute … You never know when you are going to get another (opportunity) or how things are going to work. It’s always good to contribute, especially in light of a win.”
Milwaukee’s rookies combined to go 6-for-14 with five RBI and four runs scored in the win, as all four in the starting lineup Tuesday contributed to a run in some way.
“These guys have an opportunity here because of injuries and everything that’s been going on to get a taste of what they can do up here, and it’s fun to watch Scooter and Khris and these guys,” Lohse said. “Halton had some good ABs there. It just makes it that much better for the future. We’ve got a lot more baseball to play and we’ve got to grind it out, and hopefully they keep learning some things.”