Brewers prevent series sweep by Cardinals
By Andrew Wagner
The Sports Xchange
MILWAUKEE -- There was no need for brooms on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers avoided a sweep and maintained an early two-game lead in the National League Central with a 5-1 victory over theSt. Louis Cardinals.
"That's a pretty good team over there," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "They've had some momentum against us the last few years, so it was nice to get a win."
Lucroy's two-run single in the fifth expanded what had been a 1-0 game as the Brewers' bats came to life against the Cardinals' pitchers, who had held Milwaukee to one run and six hits in the last two games.
"We believe in our offense; they can swing it," left-hander Will Smith said. "They're going to go through slumps just like we are, but they're a dangerous offense."
Smith threw a scoreless inning as the Brewers' bullpen continued its April dominance. Along with Smith, right-handers Tyler Thornburg and Francisco Rodriguez combined to throw 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday.
Through the first 15 games, Milwaukee's bullpen has a combined 1.33 ERA -- the best mark in baseball.
"Our bullpen has been amazing," said Brewers starter Wily Peralta, who held the Cardinals to a run, six hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. "If we keep pitching the way we've been pitching, we're going to be fine."
Peralta improved to 2-0 on the season by establishing command of his fastball early but also contributed in the field, where he had six assists, and at the plate, where he was 1-for-2 with a run scored and a sacrifice.
He might have stayed in the game a little longer had he not been hit twice by batted balls -- once off his foot and once off his back.
"His back kind of stiffened up from that line drive that hit off his back and then there was another off the foot," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He made a lot of defensive plays. ... It was an interesting game for him, but he hung in there and made the big pitches."
St. Louis starter Joe Kelly (1-1) saw his day cut short when his left hamstring tightened up while running out a grounder in the top of the fifth.
"Something didn't look right," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I thought he might have got the first baseman's back of his heel. But I don't know if that's true. I didn't see him react funny, but something didn't look quite right."
He had been strong up to that point, holding Milwaukee to three hits with two strikeouts and only allowed one unearned run.
Left fielder Logan Schafer reached on an error by third baseman Daniel Descalso to lead off the third and after Peralta advanced him with a sac bunt, Schafer scored on center fielder Carlos Gomez' double to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
Peralta helped his own cause in the third, starting a two-out rally with a base hit off the glove of Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Originally ruled a hit, it was later changed to an error on Peralta and then changed back to a hit.
"I'm guessing it was kind of a knuckleball and kind of running away from him," Matheny said. "I'm sure he's going to wants to make that play."
Gomez followed with a walk and Segura loaded the bases with a single to bring up Lucroy, who slapped an 0-2 offering from right-handerSeth Maness into right field to make it 3-0 Milwaukee.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez kept it going with a run-scoring single to left before Maness worked out of it.
The Cardinals got on the board in the sixth thanks to a solo home run by right fielder Allen Craig, but the Brewers added an insurance run in the eighth when pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay drew a bases-loaded walk off right-hander Pat Neshek.
NOTES: RF Ryan Braun was not in the Brewers' lineup on Wednesday. It was a planned day off for Braun, who has been battling a sore right thumb this season. ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has yet to challenge a play this season. Entering play on Wednesday, MLB managers had issued 66 challenges under baseball's expanded replay system this season. Matheny and Baltimore's Buck Showalter are the only two managers to not challenge a call. ... Milwaukee RHP Brandon Kintzler played catch Wednesday and expects to be available immediately when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list next week.