The St. Louis Cardinals came into Wednesday’s action needing a win to prevent being swept at home by the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. All arrows pointed downward for the Cardinals, as the Brewers prepared to leave town potentially with a seven-and-a-half game bulge in the NL Central.
The Cardinals broke out to an early lead in the bottom of the first when Matt Holliday hit a rocket to center for a single after Jon Jay had doubled to left center ahead of him. Jay scored on the hit.
Cardinals starter Shelby Miller started off the game throwing mostly fastballs. Mark Reynolds, playing for the injured Aramis Ramirez at third base today, jumped on one in the top of the second inning, launching it into the center field greenery for a two-run homer. Carlos Gomez deposited one in the same area an inning later, and the Brewers had a 3-1 lead.
For those looking to get their Allen Craig mojo going, Wednesday afternoon was it. Craig led the attack with two doubles, a home run, and a single in the eighth inning off emergency pitcher Martin Maldonado, last night’s catcher.
The go-ahead blow came in the bottom of the third, when, after Jay walked, and Holliday singled again, Matt Adams golfed a towering three-run homer into the right field bleachers on a Garza curveball.
Miller was not so much in a groove as he was able to get out of trouble when he needed to. His counterpart, Matt Garza, hurt his thumb batting in the fourth. After walking Matt Carpenter to start the bottom of the inning, Manager Ron Roenicke replaced Garza with Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang. With two on and two out, Craig laced a double into the right center field gap, scoring Jay and Holliday.
Wang, a left-hander, threw with easy velocity, touching 93 miles per hour several times in his stint on the mound. In the fifth, Greg Garcia, batting seventh and starting his first major league game, doubled inside the first base line. Shelby Miller blasted a double over the head of the right fielder Elian Herrera, scoring Garcia.
Allen Craig led off the sixth with a home run to center field, making the score 9-3. The call was briefly disputed, and the umpires reviewed it. The ball clanged off a railing in the bleachers and caromed back onto the field.
Craig fouled a few pitches off to the left during plate appearances, but each time after his first at-bat he ended one by driving the ball with authority into the outfield or over the fence. It was bound to happen, as he is too good of a hitter, and his batting average on balls in play entering today was well-below league average.
Miller went six innings to gain his third victory against two defeats. Randy Choate pitched two effective innings in the seventh and eighth.