ST. LOUIS -- Matt Garza couldn't command any of his offspeed pitches, he walked five batters and, at times, he had no defensive help. Yet, his sixth time at Busch Stadium was the charm on Monday.
Winless in five previous starts at the Cardinals' home ballpark, Garza practiced damage control for 5 2/3 innings to top Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals' home opener, a 5-4 Brewers win. In the first inning, Garza worked around a dreaded two-out walk. In each inning from the second through the fifth, he allowed a leadoff baserunner but no multi-run rallies. In the fourth and fifth, he shut down the Cardinals after shortstop Jean Segura cost an out with a wild throw.
"I was a little out of whack and had to keep making pitches," Garza said. "I'm not proud of the five walks … but I'm happy to be on the 'W' side."
Garza entered the afternoon with a 6.95 ERA in his previous starts at Busch Stadium, and that includes a one-hit gem last August in which he didn't allow a run for six innings before departing with a rib-cage strain. On Monday, he limited the Cardinals to one run in the third and fourth innings in part by striking out four batters, but mostly by holding St. Louis 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Garza finished the spring hopeful about a resurgent slider, but that pitch has been inconsistent in his two starts so far. He spoke of a work in progress.
"It's more of just controlling those early-season emotions," he said. "You feel so good, you want to get it all out right away. You just slow it down and take control of it. That's what I tried to do today. When I felt myself rushing, slow down and try to make a big pitch."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.