Cardinals-Brewers Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers’ original preferred script for Wednesday’s

series finale may have involved a dominant start by Zack Greinke

and timely hitting by Ryan Braun, followed by John Axford shutting

down St. Louis in the ninth to convert a save.

In the Cardinals’ version, Matt Holliday might have provided the

big hits.

None of those scenarios appear likely to occur.

After removing Axford from the closer’s role and opting to skip

Greinke’s turn in the rotation, manager Ron Roenicke will give the

ball to rookie Tyler Thornburg to face the Cardinals in a getaway

day contest that Holliday and Braun could both miss due to


Greinke started three straight games surrounding the All-Star

break – made possible by a first-inning ejection in the first of

those outings – but may have been thrown off his game as he allowed

10 runs in eight innings over those three starts.

“We probably put too much on him, thinking he’d be fine, and he

wasn’t,” said Roenicke, who hopes to start Greinke again next

Tuesday at Philadelphia.

In this contest, his turn will be taken by Thornburg (0-0, 7.36

ERA), who made his major league debut in a spot start against

Toronto on June 19, allowing five runs – all coming on four homers

– in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander got sent back to Triple-A

Nashville following that contest.

He returned to the big leagues Saturday with two innings of

relief against Pittsburgh. He gave up one hit, but it was a home

run to former Brewer Casey McGehee.

Axford didn’t surrender any homers in Monday’s series opener,

but he did blow his sixth save of the season in Milwaukee’s 3-2

defeat. On Tuesday, Roenicke announced that for the time being

Axford will pitch in lower-pressure situations to regain

confidence. Francisco Rodriguez, who has 293 career saves, will

handle ninth-inning duties.

“It’s certainly what he wants to do,” Roenicke said of

Rodriguez. “And he is – he’s a closer. He’s a great closer. I think

Frankie’s such a professional that whether I have him setting up or

whether I have him closing, he knows how important he is to our

team to win.”

Rodriguez got an opportunity right away Tuesday. He allowed hits

to David Freese and Yadier Molina to open the ninth, but got out of

the jam as the Brewers held on to win 3-2.

Both teams’ No. 3 hitters left the game hurt. Holliday departed

with a left thigh contusion after getting hit by a pitch in the

first inning, and Braun was removed with a right adductor strain –

an injury he said wasn’t serious – in the seventh.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was similarly optimistic about

Holliday, whose 15-game hitting streak remains intact, though both

managers could opt to sit their sluggers in a day game after a

night game.

“He’s been working with the trainers and they seem to think that

he’s come a long way since he left the game, so he’s feeling a lot

better,” Matheny said.

Curiously, Milwaukee (43-47) is 5-0 this season when Braun

doesn’t play. The Cardinals have won two of the three games

Holliday has missed, though they’ve totaled only seven runs in

those contests.

St. Louis (47-44) will give the ball to Adam Wainwright (7-9,

4.62). The right-hander is 7-5 with a 2.20 ERA in 22 appearances –

15 starts – against the Brewers, allowing three runs or fewer in

each of the last 10.

He made his season debut after recovering from Tommy John

surgery April 7 at Milwaukee, and allowed three runs over 5 2-3

innings of a 6-0 defeat.

Wainwright, who has alternated wins and losses in his last four

starts, is trying to bounce back after losing his first outing of

the second half. He yielded four runs in 6 1-3 innings of Friday’s

5-3 defeat at Cincinnati.

The Cardinals have lost four of five, their worst stretch since

a season-high five-game losing streak May 29-June 3.