Mikolas, DeJong help Cardinals spoil Brewers’ home opener

Miles Mikolas earned his first win with the Cardinals.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Miles Mikolas won in his first big-league game after a three-year stint in Japan but left his biggest impression at the plate.

Hitting a home run to help spoil the Milwaukee Brewers’ home opener sure was special for the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander.

Paul DeJong connected for the second straight game, hitting his third homer this season, and Mikolas collected his first big-league hit with a two-run homer in the Cardinals’ 8-4 win Monday.

Mikolas (1-0) gave up a two-run homer to Eric Thames and solo shots to Lorenzo Cain and Manny Pina. But the 29-year-old benefited from the Cardinals’ own outburst at hitter-friendly Miller Park.

“I guess I figured if I’m going to give up some home runs, I might as well try to get one back, help my cause a little bit,” Mikolas joked.

It was a memorable return to the majors for Mikolas and a disappointing opener for the Brewers. They lost for the first time after opening the season with a three-game sweep at San Diego.

“Any pitcher home run, pitcher RBIs, it always feels tough to come back from that,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Mikolas gave up seven hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his first big-league start since Aug. 25, 2014, when he pitched eight innings for the Texas Rangers in a 2-0 win over Seattle.

He played 37 games for San Diego and Texas in 2012-14. He was 4-6 on the mound and 0 for 4 at the plate.

The power started building in Japan, where Mikolas hit two home runs in three seasons.

He’ll savor his fifth-inning drive off Zach Davies (0-1) that broke a 2-all tie for a while.

“I might remember the home run just because that was a highlight of the day,” Mikolas said. “But looking back I’ll probably look at the mistakes I made as a pitcher … and make myself better moving forward.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals 3B Jedd Gyorko left before the bottom of the seventh with a strained right hamstring. … RHP Adam Wainwright (left hamstring strain) shagged fly balls and grounders during batting practice. Wainwright went on the disabled list March 26 and is eligible to come off Thursday, which is the Cardinals’ home opener against Arizona. Asked how he felt, Wainwright said with a smile, “That’s what everybody wants to know. It’s a secret.”

Manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out starting Wainwright for the home opener. “We didn’t take anything off the table,” Matheny said. “Just kind of take all the information in. Just see what happens.”

IT’S A HIT

Nothing like self-motivation on social media to get Dexter Fowler going at the plate. The Cardinals outfielder snapped a 0-for-13 slump to start the season with a third-inning single to center.

Before the game, Fowler wrote “I will get a hit ” 13 times in a tweet. After Fowler broke through, the Indians’ Jose Ramirez and the Astros’ Josh Reddick posted similar tweets. Both players have also opened the year with extended hitless streaks.

Fowler didn’t last long on the bases, though. He was thrown out trying to steal second by Pina following his single.

TURNING POINT

DeJong’s two-run shot highlighted a four-run sixth that gave St. Louis an 8-2 lead.

The Brewers threatened in the bottom of the sixth. After Thames homered, they put runners on the corners, but reliever Bud Norris struck out Orlando Arcia on a 2-2 slider to end the threat.

The Brewers lost their fourth straight home opener.

“I’d like to win one of these Opening Day games, that’s first … but business goes on tomorrow. You feel like the rest of the season starts for us tomorrow,” Counsell said.

DAVIES’ DAY

Davies allowed eight hits and seven runs — six earned — over 5 1/3 innings in his season debut. The 25-year-old right-hander is coming off a career-best 17-win season in 2017.

“It was just a bad pitch. Ball slipped middle up, and he crushed it,” Davies said about Mikolas’ homer.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty makes his first start of the season against the team he faced in the 2017 season finale. He allowed four runs on five hits over five innings on Oct. 1, his only career outing against Milwaukee.

Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson starts in his first turn since tossing six shutout innings to begin the 2-1 win in extra innings on Opening Day in San Diego. He is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in nine career starts against the Cardinals.