Cardinals 7, Brewers 6

David Freese waited a long time for this curtain call. He was

impressed with the patience of St. Louis’ fans.

Freese hit a grand slam for his first homer of the season, and

the Cardinals used a five-run first inning to beat the Milwaukee

Brewers 7-6 on Friday night.

”That’s the biggest thing about this, you want to join the

fun,” Freese said. ”Fortunately enough, I haven’t done squat this

year and we’ve got a heck of a record.”

The Brewers made it close on a pair of three-run homers by

Aramis Ramirez off Jaime Garcia before losing for the 13th time in

15 games. The bottom four spots in the lineup were a combined 0 for

15.

”Nice to see Rammy get a couple,” Milwaukee manager Ron

Roenicke said. ”I think he’s been swinging the ball really well

and hasn’t had much to show for it.”

The Cardinals had five hits and a walk while batting around

against Wily Peralta (3-4) in the first, but the right-hander was

still in the game when Garcia (5-2) was chased with one out in the

sixth. Milwaukee got one hit in 3 2-3 innings against three

relievers, with Edward Mujica working the ninth for his 12th save

in 12 chances.

”The bullpen did a great job, they picked me up basically,”

Garcia said. ”I didn’t do my job.”

Ryan Braun reached on a leadoff single in the eighth, but was

caught stealing for a double play after Trevor Rosenthal struck out

Ramirez. Carlos Gomez then popped up a bunt to end the inning.

Freese entered with a .209 average, four RBIs and a .287 on-base

percentage, struggling to find his stroke after starting the season

on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury from chasing a foul

ball in spring training. He batted .293 last year with 20 homers

and 79 RBIs, the first time he played more than 100 games in the

majors.

Freese didn’t think failing to produce in his hometown made it

any tougher, mentioning numerous helpful suggestions. He thought

the best advice came from those who told him to just be himself and

forget about his numbers.

”You hear the crowd when it went out, that shows how much they

care about their team,” Freese said. ”It’s cool to come out here

every day. That curtain call was definitely probably more special

than the home run.”

Peralta said Freese hit a changeup that was supposed to be down

and away but hung over the middle. The Brewers thought Peralta had

some bad luck earlier in the inning.

”We hit three ground balls in the first inning, they’re outs,”

Roenicke said. ”They hit ground balls, they’re hits, so you get a

little frustrated.

”I don’t want to say that’s why he made the bad pitch to

Freese, he just got one up and Freese did a nice job of

hitting.”

Matt Holliday had two hits and two RBIs for St. Louis, which has

won 13 of 16 and leads the National League at 27-14. Allen Craig

had three hits and a walk and leadoff man Matt Carpenter had three

hits and scored twice.

Ramirez lined a pitch into left-field stands in the fourth for

just his second hit in four starts, and cleared the wall in center

in the sixth for his third homer of the season. It was his 26th

career multihomer game and left him with 32 homers against the

Cardinals, tied with Adam Dunn for second-most among active

players.

The first inning has been by far the Brewers’ best this season.

They had outscored opponents 35-9, the most runs in the majors and

fewest allowed.

Peralta appeared to have a good shot at escaping the inning down

just a run when he struck out Jon Jay for the second out. Jay

entered with a .440 career average against Milwaukee, and Freese

had been in a season-long slump with just one extra-base hit and

one RBI this month.

Freese then hammered a 1-1 pitch to straightaway center with a

stroke reminiscent of the 2011 postseason when he was World Series

and NL championship series MVP. Freese made a curtain call

responding to a sellout crowd, but struck out his last two trips

against Peralta.

Jay got an RBI single in his second trip to make it 6-0 in the

third.

Garcia retired nine in a row on 28 pitches before Norichika Aoki

slapped a single to open the fourth. Braun walked with one out and

Ramirez cut the deficit in half, lining a 3-1 pitch into the

left-field seats.

Garcia was charged with six runs and six hits in 5 1-3

innings.

NOTES: Roenicke called his first team meeting of the year

Thursday after getting outscored 10-2 in consecutive losses at

Pittsburgh. … Roenicke plans to rest Ramirez every third game or

so for now while the veteran, who returned in early May from a left

knee sprain that knocked him out a month, regains strength and

form. ”I don’t think I can’t say that in a week from now, I can

leave him out there and not worry about. I know I’m not there,”

Roenicke said before the game.