ST. LOUIS -- Mike Fiers delivered six scoreless innings for a Brewers team that needed every one of them, and Francisco Rodriguez endured a harrowing ninth inning for a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium.
It was a matchup of teams with the best and worst records in baseball, yet it was the 18-34 Brewers who came out on top despite a strong start for Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia. He carved through 17 consecutive Brewers batters without allowing a hit in one stretch, but only after Carlos Gomez's RBI single in the first inning gave Milwaukee a lead it wouldn't let go.
"Playing against St. Louis, in our division, one of the best teams, it just shows you we can play with these guys any night," Fiers said. "That should be another confidence booster for us. We should take that and roll with it."
After using eight relievers in a 17-inning win on Sunday, Brewers manager Craig Counsell employed four more Monday including Rodriguez, who nearly ended the game with a pick-off attempt at second base that was so close Counsell asked for a replay review. Rodriguez recorded a more conventional out with a groundout to seal his ninth save of the season and No. 357 in his career, one shy of mentor Troy Percival for ninth on baseball's all-time list.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fired up: With the Brewers' bullpen stretched thin from Sunday's Miller Park marathon, the pressure was on Fiers to pitch deep into the game. He delivered, twice stranding runners in scoring position, including a sixth inning that ended with Jason Heyward popping out to catcher Jonathan Lucroy in foul territory. When Lucroy squeezed the inning's final out after Fiers' 99th and final pitch, Fiers pumped his fist in celebration.
"He knew going out that we needed some innings to cover for our bullpen, and he did a good job of eating them up for us," said Lucroy, who went hitless in his return from the disabled list. "He was a little erratic to start off, but then he started bucking in."
Garcia golden: The Brewers did well to get to Garcia early, scoring in the first inning with a pair of hits, including Gomez's two-out RBI single to left field. Garcia did not allow another baserunner until the fifth inning, when Jason Rogers reached on Garcia's own error, and didn't surrender another hit until Gomez's infield single with one out in the seventh.
"Today, it's just a shame we wasted a start like that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He could've gone a complete game, his stuff was that good today."
Cards come up empty in eighth: A day after suffering a blown save in his first crack at eighth-inning duty, Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress again was on the ropes when Matt Holliday greeted him with a single in the eighth inning to put runners at the corners with one out. But Jeffress recovered to strike out Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina, preserving a 1-0 Brewers lead and capping Jeffress' Major League-leading 28th appearance.
Air Kolten: St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong ranged to his right and skied to snag a Rogers grounder that ramped off the mound with two outs and a runner on base in the ninth. He delivered a sharp throw to first to end the inning and keep the Cardinals within a run heading to the bottom of the inning.
"I kind of like it. Guys have got to be flexible. I had lots of guys come up to me and say, 'I can go today.' It's special circumstances -- 17 innings is going to happen once every couple years. The bullpen's been taxed pretty good the last 2-3 days but everybody's been, 'I'm in.' It's actually great to see. It's encouraging." -- Counsell, on getting through the day after using nine pitchers in a marathon win over Arizona
Rodriguez nearly had Heyward picked off second base for the final out of the game in the ninth inning on a play so close that Counsell challenged umpire Kerwin Danley's safe call. After reviewing a tangle at the bag between Heyward and Brewers shortstop Jean Segura for more than two minutes, that original call stood, giving Wong and the Cardinals one final chance. Wong grounded out to first base, however, and the game was over.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: First baseman Adam Lind is expected back in the lineup Tuesday, when the Brewers and Cardinals continue their three-game series at 7:15 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium. Lind was unable to start Sunday due to a tight back and didn't start on Monday because the Cardinals started a left-hander.
Cardinals: St. Louis will try and improve to 6-1 in Tuesday games, as it sends Lance Lynn to the mound to face Milwaukee in a 7:15 p.m. CT game. Lynn is 1-1 against the Brewers this year and allowed six runs on 10 hits over five innings when he faced them last on April 26.
David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on
Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.