ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he felt "sick" all day after the Cardinals blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Brewers in 12 innings on Monday night.
He might need a trip to urgent care after Tuesday night when the Cardinals again took a 3-0 lead only to again fall in extra innings. This time the outcome was 5-4 in 11 innings, and every bit as frustrating.
The Cardinals had a chance in the seventh to take the lead after Allen Craig tripled in the tying run with one out and the middle of the order coming up. But after Matt Holliday was intentionally walked, Matt Adams and Yadier Molina struck out. The Cardinals didn’t get a runner to second in their final four at-bats.
"In these close games, it’s the little things that either are going to help us or kill us," Matheny said. "We’ve been having trouble getting guys over, runner at third with less than two outs getting them in. That’s something we’ve had a lot of confidence in ourselves getting done. It’s almost a confidence issue now because we’re seeing the opposite side of it."
No matter what happens in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers are assured of breaking a seven-series losing streak to the Cardinals. St. Louis entered this series having won 25 of 37 games against Milwaukee since the 2011 NLCS.
The Brewers not only are enjoying a little regular-season revenge, they have built a 6.5-game lead in the NL Central over the 14-14 Cardinals. St. Louis never was more than four games out of first in 2013.
Milwaukee, 11-1 on the road, has built the majors’ best record (20-7) with some of its best players on the sideline, including Ryan Braun (oblique) and Aramis Ramirez, who sat out after suffering a bruised left elbow when he was hit by a pitch on Monday.
— Yadier Molina. Knowing how smart a player Molina is, you’d figure he would hit well against former battery mate Kyle Lohse. "Well" would be an understatement. Since Lohse left St. Louis, Molina is 9 for 15 against him with three doubles and three homers. The three-run, first-inning homer Molina deposited into the center-field bleachers was the first homer Lohse had allowed since Opening Day.
— Strikeouts. They were way up, and not in a good way for the Cardinals. St. Louis hitters whiffed 17 times, including nine in six innings against Lohse. It was the Cardinals’ most strikeouts since May 3, 2012 against Erik Bedard and the Pirates. Four Cardinals struck out three times: Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Mark Ellis and Randal Grichuk, who singled in the first at-bat of his first big-league start but also grounded into a double play and finished 1 for 5.
— Pat Neshek. When he said in spring training that he felt sure he would have a strong season, he wasn’t kidding. The veteran right-hander became the first Cardinals reliever to appear in 14 games as he worked the seventh and eighth without allowing a base runner. Of the 20 pitches he threw, 17 were strikes. For the season, Neshek has struck out 16 in 12 2/3 innings and has his ERA down to 1.42.
— Lance Lynn’s efficiency. His line for the night was fine — three runs allowed in five innings — but he sure labored to get it. Lynn threw 102 pitches and that was after a tidy, eight-pitch fifth inning. There was nothing clean about his fourth. Lynn walked two, threw two wild pitches, gave up three hits and allowed all three runs, using 42 pitches in the process.
Lohse, of all hitters, had the key at-bat when, with two outs and the bases loaded, he hit a two-run single to left. Lynn fell behind 2-0 before Lohse took a strike and fouled off three straight pitches before his first hit of the season tied the game.
"If you can’t put the pitcher away with two outs and the bases loaded with a two-run lead, you deserve not to win the game," Lynn said. "Go 2-0 to the pitcher, that’s not a very good job."
— Peter Bourjos’ playing time. That Jon Jay didn’t start in center field on Tuesday after going 0-for-6 on Monday wasn’t a surprise. That Grichuk was in the lineup ahead of Bourjos was. Before the game, Matheny said the team needs to get Bourjos’ bat going but acknowledged the difficulty of doing so without consistent at-bats. Bourjos did have a good appearance pinch-hitting against hard-throwing lefty Will Smith in the seventh when he drew a walk after falling behind 0-2. Perhaps that will be enough to earn him his first start in a week on Wednesday.
— Mark Ellis. GM John Mozeliak said on the FSM telecast that Kolten Wong’s stay in Memphis might be only 2-3 weeks. If Ellis’ bat doesn’t heat up, Wong might be back even sooner. Ellis went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts — one on a pitch that broke a foot outside — as his average dropped to .133. He has only two hits in his past six games.
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