The Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis watches his RBI triple during the 12th inning.
Jeff Roberson/Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
In baseball, a rough night at the plate can be forgotten with one swing of the bat.
Khris Davis entered his at-bat in the 12th inning 0-for-5 on Monday night with four strikeouts, leaving eight runners on base in the process. With the go-ahead run on third base, Davis fell behind 0-2 before eventually lining a triple to right.
Banged up and all out of healthy position players on the bench, the Milwaukee Brewers rallied for what just may have been their best win of the season, a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 12 innings.
With the win, Milwaukee became just the fourth National League team since 1969 to begin the season 10-1 on the road, joining the 1976 Philadelphia Phillies, the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1994 Atlanta Braves as those to accomplish the feat.
"Definitely put something in play," Davis said of his mindset in his 12th-inning at-bat. "Just put the bat on the ball. It was a tough day for me as far as trying to do that, but I was just going to buckle down and do whatever I had to do.
"I knew I was there for a reason. Either I was going to give in and let it happen or I could have just sold out and took it to the house. I kept my chin up and just sold out to put the ball in play."
Playing without the injured Ryan Braun and Jean Segura, the Brewers lost third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a left elbow contusion after he was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run in the seventh inning. Reliever Zach Duke had to take an at-bat in the 11th inning and backup catcher Martin Maldonado had to play first base, but that was only part of what made Milwaukee’s victory improbable.
The Brewers trailed 1-0 from the bottom of the first inning through the sixth inning, not putting up much of a fight against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha. After Davis struck out to strand the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, solo home runs from Matt Holliday and Allen Craig put St. Louis up 3-0.
With the way Wacha was throwing the ball combined with the dominant nature of the back end of the Cardinals bullpen, the game seemed to be all but over.
But the Brewers found a way to score three runs against Wacha in the seventh inning to even the score and eventually force the game into extra innings. RBI singles from Lyle Overbay and Scooter Gennett cut the deficit to 3-2, and Milwaukee still had the bases loaded with one out.
Pat Neshek then replaced Wacha on the mound and struck out Lucroy for the second out. Up 1-2 in the count on Ramirez, Neshek plunked the veteran on the elbow to force in the tying run.
After Yovani Gallardo exited after six innings, Milwaukee’s bullpen continued its impressive start to the season. Six relievers teamed up to allow just four hits while striking out nine over six scoreless innings of relief.
Brandon Kintzler had to record four outs in the ninth inning, including three with the winning run in scoring position, because Maldonado couldn’t get his foot on the first-base bag on what should have been a routine third out of the inning.
"I think it really showcased what they are capable of," Lucroy said of the bullpen. "They got the job done against a really good lineup over there, guys that battle. Our guys were better than that tonight, and they definitely showed it."
Lucroy led off the top of the 12th with a double to left and moved up to third on Maldonado’s groundout to second.
Davis had left the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings but didn’t let a critical scoring opportunity go to waste this time, hitting an up-and-away fastball from Seth Maness into the corner in right.
Mark Reynolds followed with a sacrifice fly to score Davis and give the Brewers an important insurance run.
"Khris Davis needed that one," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He hung in there and battled."
Losing another key player to injury and losing Monday’s game would have been a tough pill to swallow. The Brewers could be without Ramirez, Braun and Segura on Tuesday, while Lucroy may need a break after having caught six games in a row and 12 innings Monday.
It’s a lot easy to worry about who is going to play where knowing game one of the series is already in hand.
"This win was huge," Roenicke said. "It was a great win, but just going into tomorrow knowing that we won this game. We’ll do what we can tomorrow."