MILWAUKEE — Matt Garza is finally healthy and it’s beginning to show.
The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander pitched into the eighth inning for the first time this season, leading his team to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
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"I’ve just been trying to get back to normal," Garza said. "I finally feel back to where I should be. I’m not fighting my body anymore. I’m not fighting my pitches."
Garza missed more than two months at the start of the season with a strained right lat muscle and struggled in July before showing more consistency in August.
"I’m actually getting to be able to play pain-free and it’s exciting for me," Garza said. "It’s been three, four years since I have been like this. I found my slider, my breaking stuff. I’m just going to embrace the moment and go out there and have some fun."
Garza (5-6) gave up one run and three hits in seven-plus innings while walking two and striking out eight.
"It was another start where he was very good," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsel said. "He’s got a little string going right now where he’s really making pitches."
Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a three-run homer off Luke Weaver (1-2) in the third inning for the Brewers, who snapped a six-game losing streak.
"He just left a changeup up. I was able to get inside it and put a good swing on it," Nieuwenhuis said.
Nieuwenhuis’ blast came after Garza drew a two-out walk and Jonathan Villar followed with a double.
"I was just trying to take as many pitches as possible and keep myself from going back out there really quick," Garza said. "He threw a good cutter off and I leaned out there. I was telling myself, `I’d rather you punch out looking than swing at something in the dirt.’"
Garza allowed the first two batters in the eighth to reach base. After Greg Garcia singled, he walked pinch-hitter Stephen Piscotty.
"He’s got a lot of power and I don’t want to make a mistake leaving something over the middle. So I made sure to keep stuff down or off and he wasn’t biting, so you just tip your cap to a good at-bat for him," Garza said.
Carlos Torres replaced Garza and pitched out of the jam, but not before loading the bases with two outs.
Yadier Molina hit a solo home run in the fourth for the Cardinals giving them a homer in a franchise-record 20 consecutive games.
Weaver, making his fourth major league start, gave up three runs and four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out 10, including four straight at one point.
The Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but failed to score off Weaver, who struck out Keon Broxton looking to end the inning.
Tyler Thornburg notched his sixth save in 10 chances.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
The Brewers traded OF Eric Young Jr., who has spent the entire season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, to the New York Yankees, for cash considerations.
The Brewers struck out 43 times in the three-game series, including a franchise-record 19 times on Monday, 12 in a 10-inning game on Tuesday and another 12 on Wednesday.
"Strikeouts are hurting us," Counsell said.
Cardinals: 1B Matt Adams, on the DL with left shoulder inflammation, could soon return to the lineup. Adams is "getting healthy and getting close," manager Mike Matheny said.
Brewers: Counsell said OF Domingo Santana is healthy despite being out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game. Santana missed games in May with a sore shoulder. An ailing right elbow kept him out of the lineup from the first week of June until earlier this month.
Cardinals: Alex Reyes (1-0, 0.64 ERA) will make his second major league start when St. Louis starts a three-game series at Cincinnati on Friday. He had a no-decision in his first start on Saturday against Oakland, allowing one run and two hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Brewers: Junior Guerra (7-3, 2.93) will return to the rotation when Milwaukee opens a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Friday. Guerra had been on the DL with right elbow inflammation. He is 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in three career games (two starts) against the Pirates.