MILWAUKEE – The first-ever meeting of two Mexican-born starting pitchers on Cinco De Mayo didn’t last long, as the St. Louis Cardinals roughed up Milwaukee’s Marco Estrada for six runs on three walks, three hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch – in the second inning. St. Louis eventually beat Milwaukee 10-1 to complete the four-game sweep.
“That is hard to do,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of sweeping the four-game series. “But, I am real proud of how the guys played. I think it is a lot like a couple other series we have had where the guys just came in ready to play this morning and were excited about being here. You could see that passion they have for the game. They went to work and they made the most of the opportunities they had. It was a good day.”
The second inning started with a strikeout followed by a walk to Daniel Descalso. Pete Kozma then singled and was followed by another strikeout.
With two outs, Jon Jay was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Shane Robinson walked for the second time in the game, forcing in a run. Matt Holliday then walked as well, again forcing in a run.
With the bases still loaded, Allen Craig drilled a double down the left field line that cleared the bases. Yadier Molina then ripped a single that scored Craig for the sixth and final run of the inning.
Overall, the Cardinals sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring six times. All six runs were scored by the Cardinals with two outs.
“You get the timely hits,” Matheny said, “and that is something I think we have done a pretty nice job of all season. Then to display the power too and you see some good defense, we had a couple of real nice plays. I think it was a little bit of everything, but it starts with Jaime (Garcia) and Jaime was very good today.”
Estrada lasted just 3.1 innings and eight runs. He gave up six hits and walked five while also striking out five.
Matt Holliday added to the lead in the top of the fourth when he blasted a 1-1 pitch from Estrada out of the park for his fifth home run of the season.
With two out in the top of the sixth, Craig collected his fourth RBI of the game with his first major league triple to score Holliday.
In the eighth, St. Louis got another run when Tony Cruz collected his first RBI of the season on a one-out single. However, the Redbirds’ next two batters were retired to leave the bases loaded.
Milwaukee’s best offensive inning came in the bottom of the fifth when the Brewers had four hits and scored a run. Three of the hits were infield singles and two of them came with two outs. The Brewers’ lone run was scored on the first career hit of Brewers’ pitcher Alfredo Figaro.
“Every time something like that happens, you have got to do your best and keep pitching,” Garcia said. “You have to try to keep us in the game and keep making pitches. Some of those balls, I have got to do better at – I have got to be able to field my position better, but it is part of the game and you learn from that.”
Following Figaro’s RBI single and then a flyout, Milwaukee loaded the bases on a pair of infield singles from Jean Segura and Ryan Braun. But the Cardinals got out of the inning without any further damage when Garcia struck out Aramis Ramirez to end the inning.
“I was able to get out of the jam and keep us in the game,” Garcia said.
Matheny said Garcia getting out of the fifth was big for the overall outcome of the game.
“That is the inning that stood out to me too,” Matheny said. “They had four hits in that inning and three of them never made their way into the outfield grass. (Garcia) kept making pitches and got out of it and we’re still sitting at (8-1). That is an opportunity. Ramirez walks up there and it could very quickly be (8-5) and he kept making pitches and didn’t seem to miss a beat.”
Garcia earned his fourth win of the year against one loss while throwing eight innings. He gave up just one run while allowing eight hits and walking one. Garcia struck out three while throwing 99 pitches.
“I felt stronger as the game went on, especially the last couple of innings,” Garcia said. “But, that was his (Matheny’s) decision and I respected it and we got the W.”
Matheny said Garcia was “very motivated to throw the ninth.”
“Especially since we have two off days in between, so it was very feasible,” Matheny said of the possibility of leaving Garcia in the game. “Also, I wanted to see the kid (Carlos Martinez) get back out there and throw again. Right at 100 (pitches) is a good place to be to get his work in and get a little extra rest and be ready to jump right back in to it. There wasn’t really, in my mind, a reason to leave him out there.”
Rookie Carlos Martinez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the Cardinals’ sixth straight victory.
While the Cardinals struck out 11 times as a team, they also tallied 11 hits. St. Louis has now collected 10 or more hits in each of its last five games.
“(Cardinals’ hitting coach) John Mabry fixed something,” Matheny said. “It’s his praise.”
The Cardinals will be off today before starting a brief two-game series in Chicago against the Cubs on Tuesday.