Brewers 8, Cardinals 1
There was uncomfortable silence in the St. Louis Cardinals' clubhouse. Either it was a quiet reflection of a team tired of losing and ready to go on a September run or the settling realism that this season is over.
Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers roughed up rookie Jaime Garcia in an 8-1 win Wednesday night that kept the slumping Cardinals from gaining ground in the postseason chase.
''We're going to keep fighting. To me, personally, as many times as I get a chance to pitch again this season, I'm going to try and go out there and give my best,'' Garcia said.
The Cardinals' upcoming four-game series against fellow postseason hopeful Atlanta beginning Thursday could begin clearing up contenders for the final three weeks with Adam Wainwright of St. Louis starting against Jair Jurrjens.
''I know everybody here is going to do their best and keep fighting,'' Garcia said. ''We'll see what happens in the end.''
Albert Pujols hit his NL-leading 36th homer in the first inning for the Cardinals, but that was the only run Chris Capuano (3-3) allowed over seven innings.
''We had a weird night,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. ''We took a lot of early strikes and then it looked like we panicked a little bit and we chased a lot of pitches.''
Garcia (13-7) had been looking for his fourth straight win. Instead, he gave up a career-high seven runs as his ERA rose to 2.69.
The Cardinals remain six games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Reds lost 9-2 in Colorado.
St. Louis has fallen flat in the chase, losing 11 of 15 with 25 games to go. Garcia has had three of those four wins with an 0.86 ERA in the previous three starts.
The 24-year-old left-hander was again expected to be the stopper, but after the second inning, it was clear he didn't have his best stuff and was gone after the fourth.
''I was trying to do too much,'' Garcia said.
Capuano scattered four hits in his longest outing since 2007 after missing the last two seasons because of his second Tommy John surgery.
''I don't think people realize how difficult it is to go through what he's been through and get back to this point,'' Braun said. ''It's great to see him throwing the ball well. He's earned the right to get back here.''
Capuano said he wanted to return for the eighth, but his groin tightened on him. The rebuilt arm, however, hasn't been a problem.
''Knock on wood, I've been real happy with the way the arm feels,'' he said.
All of Milwaukee's runs came with two outs. Braun tied it in the third with a single and Milwaukee scored two more on Casey McGehee's single. After Corey Hart's RBI single in the fourth made it 4-1, Braun homered.
''Make mistakes with men in scoring position, you get burnt,'' La Russa said.
Braun has been sizzling down the stretch and his fourth-inning drive carried just beyond the reach of Colby Rasmus at the left-center field wall. Since Aug. 2, Braun is hitting .403 with four homers and 20 RBIs after being mired in the worst slump of his young career most of the summer.
Braun joined teammates Prince Fielder (30), Hart (27), Rickie Weeks (26) and McGehee (20) with at least 20 homers.
Pujols, who homered for the first time in 11 games, should reach the 100-RBI mark for the 10th straight year in the coming days after driving in his 98th with his first-inning shot.
That was it for the Cardinals' offense.
''We were just bad,'' La Russa said. ''We're getting shut down pretty regularly now (against left-handers). We've got to do something about it.''
Notes: The Brewers won the season series 8-7. ... Career saves leader Trevor Hoffman got another loud ovation before the game after highlights of his 600th save notched Tuesday night were shown on the scoreboard. ... Cardinals LHP Trever Miller (left forearm strain) had an MRI and is considered day-to-day. 3B David Freese had minor surgery to his left ankle after the club previously announced he was out for the season following right ankle surgery.