Following two straight nights of extra-inning losses, the St. Louis Cardinals needed a win to avoid being swept. Not only did the Cardinals get the win Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium, but they got it convincingly.
“We understand the fact that (the Brewers) are playing really good baseball,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “That’s what we plan on people saying about us at some point in the near future and hopefully the rest of the way through.”
The Redbirds offense came alive for 13 hits and nine runs as the Cardinals beat Milwaukee 9-3 to avoid the series sweep.
“At this point, we believe this could be the launching point for some extended stretch of really good baseball,” Matheny said. “That is a conversation we keep having here. We get one and that’s the one that is going to get us going, so that is the right mentality. It is not just the offense, it is all the way around.”
St. Louis clubbed a pair of home runs, hit six doubles, and drew six free passes to rally from a 3-1 deficit. Of course, the Cardinals also left 11 runners stranded on the bases. However, only two of the 11 were in scoring position.
Cardinals’ starting pitcher Shelby Miller enjoyed having the offense show up in force.
“It is always nice to have a lot of runs scored for you,” Miller said. “But, at the same time, you have to act like it is a close game, no matter what. ... Once you start thinking like it is a 9-3 game, that is when you start letting up a little bit and you never know what can happen. But, obviously the runs are great and the offense is doing well. That is what we needed to start going and hopefully we get on the way here.”
With one out in the first, Jon Jay doubled. He then gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead when he scored on a single by Matt Holliday.
But the lead didn’t last long as the Brewers countered with two runs in the top of the second.
“The ball was carrying a little bit today,” Matheny said. “(Miller) is going to pay when he gets to that spot where he is in the middle of the plate, up in the zone.”
Jonathon Lucroy leadoff with a single. After a strikeout, Lucroy was forced out at second while Khris Davis beat the throw to first, avoiding the double play. The next pitch Shelby Miller threw was deposited into the bleachers by Mark Reynolds, giving Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.
With one out in the top of the third, Carlos Gomez crushed Miller’s first offering for a solo blast, extending the Brewers’ lead to 3-1.
Like the Brewers, St. Louis used the longball to get back into the game.
“It was nice to some big production,” Matheny said. “
With one out, Jay walked and moved to third on Holliday’s second single of the day. Matt Adams then gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead when he hammered a Matt Garza pitch to right centerfield for a 439-foot three-run homer.
“Adams being able to jump on one was a big blow,” Matheny said. “I thought our guys went about their at bats really well today. You can see some confidence starting to build, but you never know what is going to be the one hit, the one play that kind of gets people going in a positive direction and I think that was one of them.”
Craig followed Adam’s second homer of the season with a double and third when Greg Garcia struck out, but made it safely to first as the ball got past Lucroy. Craig was able to take third on the strikeout as well. Tony Cruz loaded the bases when he walked on 13 pitches, but the Redbirds left them loaded when Miller struck out to end the inning.
Garza, who had thrown 16 pitches in each of the first two innings for 32 total, more than doubled his pitch count in the third, throwing 44, raising his count to 76.
Matt Carpenter walked on eight pitches in the bottom of the fourth and that was the end of the line for Garza. Jay followed with a single off new pitcher Wei-Chung Wang and moved Carpenter to second. Holliday then hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Jay at second for the first out of the inning.
After a pop up from Adams, Craig drilled his second double of the game, scoring Carpenter and Holliday to give the Cards a 6-3 lead.
The Cardinals added two runs to their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Rookie Greg Garcia collected his first major league hit, a double down the right field line. He then moved to second on Cruz’s ground out and scored on Miller’s double over the head of Brewers’ right fielder Elian Herrera. Following the second out of the inning, Jay recorded St. Louis’ third double of the inning to score Miller.
When asked about his preference of contributing to the offense or getting the win, Miller chose the win.
“I will take the win over a double every single day,” Miller said.  
St. Louis added another run in the sixth when Craig hammered a 3-2 pitch into the centerfield stands. At first, the umpires ruled the ball was not a home run, but a very quick review proved otherwise.
“That was definately a little awkward,” Craig  who had to stop at third base while the play was reviewed, said. “But, it is part of the game and they checked it and got it right.”
Miller (3-2) picked up his third win of the year as he scattered six hits and three walks over six innings of work. He allowed all three runs and struck out one.
“It was good,” Miller said. “We needed a huge win there. It was kind of rough a little early on, but I kind of settled in.”
Matheny had mixed reviews on Miller’s performance.
“I thought Shelby was good at times today,” Matheny said.  That has kind of been what we have seen off and on. He will be really sharp and then we will see some balls just hit the middle of the plate.”
Every Cardinal hitter reached base safely at least once with four reaching safely multiple times.
The Cardinals’ offense was led by Craig who reached bases in four of his five at bats and collected nine total bases.
Craig finished the day 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs. The four-hit game was the fifth of Craig’s career and tied his career-high which was last accomplished on July 14 last season.
“It definately was a good day for me personally to get some hits and drive in some runs in some big spots,” Craig said. “I just try to take it one at bat at a time, one day at a time. As cliche as that sounds, I am just trying to keep things simple and focus on the job I have to do.”
Matheny was pleased to see his right fielder have a breakout game.
“It was a big day for Allen,” Matheny said. “Watching the ball jump off his bat, you could see it coming. He is in a good spot now.”
Craig wasn’t the only Redbird swinging a hot bat. Jay reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI while Holliday was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
Of the Cardinals’ six free passes, Cruz worked two of them. Carpenter, Jay, Holliday, and Jhonny Peralta also walked.
St. Louis will be off today before starting a three-game series in Chicago on Friday.