Brewers starter Matt Garza injures thumb, leaves in 4th inning

Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza shows his hand to trainer Dan Wright during the fourth inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Jeff Roberson/AP

Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Matt Garza left Wednesday’s 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the top of the fourth inning with a right thumb contusion. The Brewers list his status as day-to-day.

With the Brewers needing a deep start to save an overworked bullpen, Garza was not on track to deliver one even before his early exit. Garza became the first Brewers starter this season to not work at least five innings and ended the team’s streak of quality starts at nine by allowing five runs in three innings.

Garza hurt the thumb while batting in the top of the fourth inning. Signed to a four-year, $50 million contract this winter, Garza has been inconsistent in the early going and now sports a 5.00 ERA. He’s had two excellent starts, a couple of average outings and two rough ones.

The Brewers entered the bottom of the third inning with a 3-1 lead, but the Cardinals jumped back ahead on a three-run home run from Matt Adams. Garza was able to escape without any further damage by striking out Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller with the bases loaded.

After Garza walked Matt Carpenter to start the fourth inning, Brewers head athletic trainer Dan Wright and manager Ron Roenicke came to the mound. After a couple of practice tosses, Roenicke made the decision to pull Garza.

It was the absolute worst time for one of Milwaukee’s starting pitchers to leave early, as the bullpen was essentially unavailable Wednesday.

Milwaukee’s skipper had no choice but to turn to Rule 5 lefty Wei-Chung Wang — who had pitched  only three innings in three games previous to Wednesday — out of the bullpen. The rookie almost escaped trouble in the fourth but allowed a two-out, two-run double to Allen Craig. St. Louis scored two more runs off Wang in the fifth to break the game open at 8-3.

Wang allowed four earned runs on six hits but did give the Brewers three innings they desperately needed.

Roenicke used Zach Duke for the seventh inning before turning the ball over to reserve catcher Martin Maldonado for the eighth. The first position player to pitch for the Brewers since Joe Inglett in July of 2010, Maldonado saved the bullpen an inning by tossing a scoreless frame.

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