Brewers’ 9-game winning streak snapped by rival Cardinals
MILWAUKEE — The top of the sixth inning looked like one of those frames the Milwaukee Brewers have had a few times on their nine-game winning streak.
A couple of clutch defensive plays gave Matt Garza and the Brewers a way out of an inning that could have easily turned ugly, but this time one swing of the bat prevented the momentum-shifting sequence from going their way.
Jon Jay’s three-run home run on a hanging slider with two outs in the sixth opened up a 1-0 game and eventually ended Milwaukee’s winning streak at nine. The Brewers mustered just three hits off Lance Lynn and Carlos Martinez in a 4-0 loss to the Cardinals at Miller Park.
"We wanted it in the dirt," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of the 1-2 slider Jay hit out. "It’s a big strikeout pitch. It’s Garza’s strength. He gets a lot of strikeouts on sliders down. It was just up in the zone and he put a good swing on it."
Matt Holliday led off the top of the sixth with a single and looked like he was going to score on Matt Adams’ double to left-center. Brewers left fielder Logan Schafer dove for the ball and missed, but centerfielder Carlos Gomez was right there to back up the play.
Gomez fired a bullet to Jean Segura who threw to Lucroy to get Holliday at the plate. One batter later, Allen Craig hit a groundball that Lyle Overbay fielded and threw to third on to get Adams for the second out.
What could have been a big inning was neutralized, but in the end it turned out to not matter. Jhonny Peralta, who put St. Louis up 1-0 with a solo home run against Garza in the second inning, kept the inning alive with a single before Jay homered.
"I left one ball hanging, and he deposited it in the seats," Garza said. "The worst thing was it was just a big-time momentum shift right there. I felt like we had momentum after the play at home and the great plays on defense, and that was just like a back breaker."
Jay was inserted in the lineup because he entered 6-for-9 in his career against Garza, while Peralta was 11-for-25 against the right-hander prior to Monday. While not as sharp as he was in his Miller Park debut, Garza found a way to keep the Brewers in the game until Jay’s blow in the sixth.
"I could have had better stuff," Garza said. "It could have ended a different way, but it is what it is. I just have to get ready for the next one."
Trying for their first 10-game winning streak since 2003, the Brewers couldn’t solve Lynn. Entering with a 6.55 ERA, Lynn allowed just three runners to reach second base in his seven innings and struck out 11.
Milwaukee had its best scoring chance of the night happen right before the fateful sixth inning, as Scooter Gennett walked and moved up to third on a Schafer double with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. But Garza was due up and only at 73 pitches and one run allowed at the time. Lynn fanned him on three pitches to dispose of the rally.
"He was a lot better than I have seen him in the past," Lucroy said of Lynn. "He was locating down in the zone. His slider is really good, really hard. He was working up and down on both sides. You have to tip your cap to him."
Because the Brewers went 5-14 against the Cardinals in 2013, many are using this series against the defending National League Central champs as a litmus test to prove where the Brewers are at. While Milwaukee is going to need to beat St. Louis to overcome the Cardinals in the division, a series in April doesn’t determine much of anything.
"With what we (just won)? This doesn’t bother me," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "If there was a history of 20 years of never playing well against them, yeah, it would probably bother me. But I know things switch back and forth. They had a really great pitching performance today, and that was the difference in the game."
Lucroy agreed with his manager.
"We don’t look at their uniforms, we don’t care who they are, we just want to beat them," Lucroy said. Yeah, they are a good team with good pitchers and good hitters, but I think we match up pretty well. We have to figure out how to win. We have to get guys in when we get a chance, and we have to pitch."
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