Turned to again in a late game situation, Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Michael Gonzalez couldn’t get the job done. The veteran’s late-season struggles continued to climb toward rock bottom with another dismal performance in Milwaukee’s 5-1 loss to St. Louis.
The Brewers wasted a strong performance from a starting pitcher for the second straight night, leaving manager Ron Roenicke upset after the game.
“I’m frustrated, I am,” Roenicke said. “I’m tired of getting leads and just giving it away. I’m not saying in every game we make errors, but we’ve got to start making the plays when we need to make the plays, throw strikes and get ahead of people instead of walking guys and win some of these games that we get leads in.”
A night after Wily Peralta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Marco Estrada followed suit. Unlike Tuesday, the Brewers held a 1-0 lead for Estrada thanks to an unearned run scored on Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz’s throwing error.
Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter broke up Estrada’s no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth on a sharp ground ball deflecting off the right-hander’s ankle for an infield single.
Estrada got out of the sixth inning and came back out for the seventh inning. Matt Holliday led off the frame with a single to center before Estrada bounced back to record two outs. Roenicke pulled Estrada in favor of Brandon Kintzler after a two-out walk to David Freese.
The reliable but now oft-used Kintzler surrendered a base hit to Daniel Desecalso to tie the game at 1-1. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out off Kintzler in the eighth inning on a base hit, walk and infield single.
Gonzalez, who entered with a 7.56 ERA in his last 15 appearances, came on to flip Carlos Beltran around to the right side of the plate. Beltran lofted a fly ball deep enough to score the go-ahead run and put the Cardinals up 2-1.
After a throwing error by catcher Jonathan Lucroy allowed another run to score, Matt Adams launched a two-run home run off Gonzalez to blow the game open at 5-1.
With all three inherited runners scoring Wednesday, Gonzalez has allowed 18 of 38 inherited runners to score against him this year. Left-handed hitters are now hitting .268 off the left-handed specialist this season.
Roenicke was asked after the game if he will continue to use Gonzalez despite his struggles. Tom Gorzelanny, the only other left-handed option in the bullpen, is out with a shoulder injury.
“Well, we have one left-hander out there and you have spots where you can put him,” Roenicke said. “Unfortunately our bullpen, which has been really good all year, now isn’t throwing that well. I have to find some other people that we can give them the ball and see what they can do.
“I’m not going to stop using him, but he has to come in and start pitching like we know he can. We’ll see what happens.”
Pressed further on the issue, Roenicke said he’ll give more chances to other relievers in an attempt to save Kintzler from being overworked and try to find arms that will get the job done.
“We need to find somebody else who can come in and do the job,” Roenicke said. “I’ll give some other guys the ball and we’ll see how they do.
“We haven’t been (getting lefties out). We’ll see what we can do and see if we can get them out.”