Cardinals move into playoff position with 7-2 win over Brewers
ST. LOUIS — Miles Mikolas got to celebrate twice on Saturday.
The St. Louis right-hander was all smiles early in the afternoon when his twins, Miles and Madelyn, were released from the hospital for the first time after being born prematurely a month ago.
That good feeling continued hours later as Mikolas tossed six effective innings to push the St. Louis Cardinals into the second wild-card spot in the NL with a 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“A special day,” Mikolas said.
St. Louis moved a half-game ahead of Milwaukee and within four of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The Cardinals, who are a half-game behind wild card-leading Philadelphia, have won 10 of their last 11 and captured their seventh straight series after winning the opener of the three-game set on Friday.
“We’re surging and we’re dangerous,” Mikolas said. “This is the time of year to get hot.”
The seven-series winning streak is the longest since the Cardinals won eight in a row from April 10-May 7, 2015.
Travis Shaw and Christian Yelich homered for the Brewers, who have lost six of eight.
Marcell Ozuna hit his 15th homer of the season in the second off Wade Miley (2-2).
Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader added two-run hits as St. Louis improved to 21-10 under interim manager Mike Shildt, who took over after Mike Matheny was fired on July 14.
When Shildt claimed the job, the Cardinals sat in fourth place in the wild-card standings, four games behind the second spot and 7 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago. They have made up plenty of ground in a relatively short amount of time.
“This is nice,” Shildt said. “If we keep playing good baseball, the process will take care of itself.”
Mikolas (13-3) gave up one run on five hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter in winning his fifth consecutive decision.
He said he felt motivated by the progress made by his twins. His wife, Lauren, gave birth last month, with Mikolas skipping out on the All-Star festivities.
“I think it’s good to keep those happy thoughts in your head while you’re pitching,” Mikolas said. “It’s nice to have my family healthy and happy.”
Mikolas lowered his ERA to 2.80.
Miley surrendered four runs on four hits over five innings. Three of the runs were unearned thanks to a missed third strike by catcher Erik Kratz that prolonged a three-run third inning.
“It’s my fault,” Miley said. “I crossed (Kratz) up on the fastball with two outs. He put down cutter and I thought I saw fastball.”
Tyler O’Neill broke a 1-all tie with a bloop single to right following the passed ball by Kratz, which would have ended the inning. Following a walk to Ozuna, DeJong hit a two-run single to push the lead to 4-1.
DeJong had two hits and drove in three runs.
“We can beat you in a lot of different ways,” DeJong said. “That’s something we’re figuring out.”
St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter had a 35-game streak of reaching base snapped with an 0-for-4 performance.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was ejected in the first inning by home plate umpire Cory Blaser. Blaser had warned Miley for throwing inside to O’Neill. Mikolas hit Lorenzo Cain in the top of the first.
Counsell came out to argue the warning and was ejected for the fourth time this season.
The Brewers have lost four of five.
“We’ve kind of got our tails kicked the last couple nights,” Miley said. “Not to put a lot of pressure on us, but we’ve got to play better baseball.”
St. Louis infielder Kolten Wong was removed in the fourth inning with a bruised right elbow. He was hit by a pickoff attempt from Miley. Shildt says he is day-to-day.
Thanks to a 14-3 August, the @Cardinals once again are holding on to a playoff spot 🔥
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 19, 2018
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun missed his second straight game with a sore rib cage. He is listed as day-to-day.
Cardinals: OF Jose Martinez was originally in the starting lineup, but was scratched 90 minutes before the game with right hip tightness. He was replaced by O’Neill. … RHP Carlos Martinez will make his second rehab appearance on Sunday for Double-A Springfield. Martinez, who was bothered by a right shoulder strain, threw two innings on Friday.
RHP Jhoulys Chacin (12-4, 3.72) will face RHP John Gant (5-4, 3.74) in the final game of the three-game series on Sunday. The Brewers are 18-8 when Chacin starts. He is 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA in three career starts in St. Louis. Gant hit a two-run homer in his last outing, a 6-4 win over Washington on Tuesday.