A tough decision by manager Ron Roenicke in the top of the sixth inning to allow Marco Estrada to bat with the bases loaded and two outs proved to be the difference in St. Louis’ 7-3 victory Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Estrada struck out to end the threat and then allowed a two run home run by Yadier Molina in the bottom half of the sixth. Estrada (0-1) took the loss after going six innings, allowing seven hits, two walks, five runs (4 ER) on only 78 pitches. Kyle Lohse (4-0) went six strong innings, allowing six hits, three runs and walking four.
The loss drops Milwaukee (9-12) to 4-14 against St. Louis (14-7) in the last 18 contests between the two Central division rivals.
Marco Estrada made his second start of the year for the injured Chris Narveson, out for the season with a torn rotator cuff.
A one-out walk in the Cardinal half of the third to the pitcher Lohse would prove costly as an error by Mat Gamel allowed Rafael Furcal to reach and Lohse to advance to third. Jon Jay singled home Lohse and moved Furcal to third staking the Cards to an 1-0 advantage. Matt Holliday then beat the relay throw to first on a weakly hit ground ball to third, avoiding the double play and allowing Jay to score, pushing the lead to 2-0 in favor of St. Louis.
Coming back in the top of the fourth, Aramis Ramirez smacked the first home run allowed by Lohse this season to dead center field, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Coming into the game struggling at the plate, the Brewers needed his second home run and ninth RBI of the season to stay close to the red hot Red Birds.
David Freese continued his Brewer killing ways in the bottom of the fourth, belting a home run off Estrada to center. The Brewers’ pitching staff and Batman alike have struggled containing Mr. Freese, the reigning World Series MVP.
Alex Gonzalez led off the Brewers’ fifth with a deep home run to center, his fourth of the season. The second home run of the afternoon for the Crew made it a 3-2 game.
The Brew-makers would threaten in the top of the sixth, when back-to-back hits by Ramirez and Corey Hart put runners at second and third with one out. A pop-out by Gamel and a walk from Gonzalez loaded the bases with two out for George Kottaras. A disciplined approach from the back up catcher drew a walk and a RBI to tie the game at 3-3. Manager Ron Roenicke then sent Marco Estrada to bat, who quickly struck out on three pitches.
Bases on balls continued to hurt Milwaukee as a lead off walk to Carlos Beltran came around to score on Yadier Molina’s home run to left field. Molina’s fourth dinger of the season gave the Cards a 5-3 lead. The decision to allow Estrada to bat and work the bottom half of the sixth ultimately cost the Crew.
In the bottom of the eighth inning St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny put a hit and run on with runners at first and second and Skip Schumaker paid it off with a two RBI double to push the lead to 7-3. While the St. Louis bullpen has not allowed a run in the series, Milwaukee’s Jose Veras failed to hold the Cardinals to a two run lead heading into the Brewers’ final three outs.
Jason Motte recorded three outs in the ninth in a non-save situation to close out the game for St. Louis. The Cardinals’ gold glove catcher Yadier Molina went 4-4 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBI. Aramis Ramirez went 2-4 with a home run, two runs scored and a RBI for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee will look to avoid the sweep Sunday, sending Zack Greinke (2-1, 4.56 ERA) against Jamie Garcia (2-0, 2.49 ERA.)