St. Louis blues: Cardinals continue to have Brewers’ number
MILWAUKEE — Ever since falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 National League Championship Series, the Milwaukee Brewers haven’t been able to figure their division rivals out.
Shelby Miller was too much for Milwaukee’s offense yet again, as the Brewers fell to 11-25 against the Cardinals since the 2011 NLCS with a 6-1 loss Tuesday at Miller Park.
A night after Lance Lynn held the Brewers to just three hits, Miller improved to 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA in six career starts against Milwaukee by allowing just a solo home run to Aramis Ramirez over his six innings of work.
The Brewers didn’t advance a runner to second base outside of Ramirez’s home run and mustered just three hits for the second consecutive night.
"If we want to win we’ve got to beat good pitching," Ramirez said. "We do have good pitching in the division. St. Louis has some good arms, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, so if we want to be successful in this division we have to be able to hit some good pitching."
After hitting .320 with 33 extra-base hits and averaging seven runs per game on the road trip to Boston and Philadelphia, the Brewers are hitting .177 on the current homestand and have scored just 2.4 runs per game over their last five.
Scoring just one run in two games against the Cardinals will do that. Lynn and Miller both entered with ERAs over 6.00 but continued their career dominance of the Brewers.
"I think as well as we were swinging the bats, it’s probably the two really good pitchers," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It’s early in the season and anytime you have an offense you like and is doing well, it’s going to come against some pretty good pitchers. The good pitching always shuts down the offense."
Brewers starter Marco Estrada kept his team in the game despite not having his best command. A pair of free bases allowed the Cardinals to jump out to a 2-0 lead, as a hit by pitch bit Estrada in the second and a walk came back to hurt him in the third.
Estrada hit Yadier Molina with a 1-2 pitch with one out in the second, and the Cardinals catcher advanced to third on a Jhonny Peralta double and later scored on a Mark Ellis groundout. Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk in the third and scored on an Allen Craig double to center.
"It was a grind, a mental battle with myself," Estrada said. "It was more trying to get through my delivery. My mechanics were off, and I kept thinking about it. It was a grind.
"My bullpen was fine. I went out for the first and I felt a little off, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. That happens to me a lot, but I kind of lock it in after that. (Tonight), the windup felt weird. The stretch, I was rushing. It was just one of those days where mentally it was a grind, for sure."
With the Cardinals already clinching this three-game series by winning the first two games, the Brewers haven’t won a series against St. Louis since September of 2012. A 5-14 record in 2013 and an 0-2 start to 2014 makes the 2011 season in which the Brewers went 9-9 against the Cardinals seem so long ago.
"It’s frustrating that they keep winning these series against us," Estrada said. "I do remember 2011, how it was basically roles reversed. We were the better team. I don’t know, all of a sudden things changed and they’ve been winning most of the series. It is a new year. I know obviously they won the series already, but it’s early. We’re a pretty good team over here. We’re very confident in ourselves and I think things are going to change for us, for sure.’ The Brewers insist the Cardinals aren’t in their heads, but there certainly comes a point where they get sick of being asked about not being able to beat them.
"I don’t think we’re so concerned about it," Roenicke said. "You guys are more concerned about the Cardinals than we are. We’re concerned about winning ballgames, whoever it’s against. It doesn’t matter. We have to win games. Whether it’s them, whether it’s Pittsburgh or whether it’s the Cubs, we don’t care. We need to win."
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