Jaime Garcia’s return to form earlier this week was a welcome sight for St. Louis. A gem from the left-hander would mean even more after the Cardinals lost another starter.
Garcia will try to spell an exhausted bullpen and help the Cardinals bounce back Saturday night as they continue a four-game home series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis (97-57) had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 loss Friday that was just their fifth in 17 games against the Brewers this year and second in the last 10. It also trimmed their NL Central lead over Pittsburgh to three games with eight to play.
More concerning might have been Carlos Martinez’s exit with shoulder tightness after throwing only seven pitches. Martinez had leveled this season’s loss of Adam Wainwright, ranking among the NL leaders in wins (14) and ERA (3.01).
He said he didn’t have a lot of pain after the game, but there was some weakness. An MRI is scheduled for Saturday.
"I’m not too concerned about it," Martinez said through an interpreter. "But I’m going to wait till tomorrow and see what happens."
Garcia (9-5, 2.45 ERA) dealt with his own groin and shoulder injuries earlier this year but will be counted on to relieve a bullpen that handled the final 8 2/3 innings Friday and 15 2/3 over the last three games.
Garcia has 14 quality starts but hit a bump in back-to-back outings this month, allowing 10 runs in 10 2/3 innings between an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati and a 5-4 win over Milwaukee. He regrouped Monday, holding the Reds to one run over seven in a 2-1 victory.
The veteran stymied the Brewers over two starts earlier this year, surrendering five hits and one run in 14 innings, but he allowed four runs in 6 1/3 on Sept. 16.
Khris Davis hit the winning homer in the ninth Friday and is 1 for 6 lifetime against Garcia. Jean Segura is 6 for 18 with a double versus the St. Louis starter.
While the Cardinals hope Martinez isn’t out for the stretch run, Milwaukee (65-89) has dealt with its own share of injuries. The Brewers moved pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Michael Blazek to the 60-day disabled list this week, while Ryan Braun (back), Jonathan Lucroy (concussion) and Elian Herrera (thigh) are still on the road back.
To help fill the gaps, Milwaukee called up four pitchers and two position players from Double-A Biloxi on Tuesday following its Southern League Championship Series loss Monday.
"It gets us back to, I think, a safe number of players," manager Craig Counsell told MLB’s official website. "Now we’ve got a normal roster, plus a little extra."
One of the promotions went to Tyler Wagner, who takes the mound for his second big league start. Wagner (0-0, 12.27) made his debut May 31 against the Diamondbacks, but it didn’t last long as the right-hander surrendered nine hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings of an eventual 7-6 win for Milwaukee in 17 innings.
He will pitch against a red-hot Jhonny Peralta, who has five hits through the first two games of the series, including a home run Thursday. Peralta is hitting .333 with two homers and 10 RBI in 16 games against the Brewers this year.
Braun lined out as a pinch-hitter Friday, while Lucroy pinch-hit and stayed in at first base, finishing 1 for 2 with an RBI.