MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers pounced on Adam Wainwright and a shaky St. Louis Cardinals infield early then held on through a nervous ninth inning for a 4-3 victory Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez walked in a run before getting Lance Berkman to fly out with the bases loaded, nailing down his second save since taking over as the team’s closer Tuesday night.
With the win, the Brewers took two out of three from the Cardinals, who have lost five of six.
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Wainwright (7-10) got off to a rough start and didn’t get much help from his infielders, who committed three errors in the Brewers’ four-run first inning — including a pair by shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Deposed closer John Axford (3-6) claimed the win.
Brewers starter Tyler Thornburg went 4 2-3 innings, giving up two runs on a pair of solo homers.
Thornburg was making his second career start after the Brewers decided to push Zack Greinke’s scheduled turn back to next week.
Thornburg had his big league debut against Toronto on June 19, a no-decision, and has made a relief appearance for the Brewers. Coming into Wednesday, he had given up five home runs in 7 1-3 innings.
Ryan Braun was not in the starting lineup for the Brewers after aggravating a nagging groin injury Tuesday night. He is expected to return for a weekend series at Cincinnati after an off day Thursday.
Norichika Aoki led off the game and reached on an error by Furcal, who charged a grounder but dropped it as he tried to get the ball out of his glove and make a throw. Nyjer Morgan then singled and Wainwright hit Aramis Ramirez on the left elbow with a 91-mph breaking ball. Ramirez stayed in the game, and Corey Hart hit a two-run single.
Wainwright then got two quick outs and appeared to be out of the inning when Carlos Gomez hit a grounder to Furcal — but Furcal’s throw to first was offline for his second error of the inning, allowing Ramirez to score. Berkman also was charged with an error on the play when he fell and lost the ball, allowing Hart to score and give the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
Wainwright recovered to go seven innings, giving up four runs — only one of which was earned — and four hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Home runs bit Thornburg again, as solo shots by David Freese in the second and Allen Craig in the third cut the lead to 4-2.
Thornburg was taken out of the game with two outs and a runner on first in the fifth, making way for Axford.
Axford lost the closer’s job to Rodriguez on Tuesday, in hopes that having Axford pitch in lower-pressure situations might help him sort out his struggles. Axford struck out Berkman to end the inning then gave up one hit in a scoreless sixth.
Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal made his big league debut in the eighth, loading the bases but striking out Gomez to end the inning.
Notes: Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment at Class-A Wisconsin on Thursday. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Lucroy is expected to spend 7-10 days rehabbing after breaking a bone in his right hand in May, splitting time between Wisconsin and Triple-A Nashville. … Although Rodriguez has taken over as closer, Roenicke said Axford ideally would be able to reclaim the job by the end of the season. “I think so, yes,” Roenicke said. … Wednesday’s attendance was 37,753.