By Jenifer Langosch and Adam McCalvy
MLB.com |@LangoschMLB |
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals saw their winning streak snapped at five and the Pirates creep to within three games of their National League Central lead with Friday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers, which turned on Khris Davis' tiebreaking home run in the ninth. And yet, the game may not have been St. Louis' biggest loss of the night.
The defeat, which kept the Cardinals' magic number to clinch the division at six, was further marred by starter Carlos Martinez's premature exit, which the team later announced was due to right shoulder tightness. After his seventh pitch, Martinez was met at the mound by manager Mike Matheny and one of the team's athletic trainers. Martinez, seeking his 15th win in his 28th start, left the mound after a brief consultation and walked deliberately to the dugout with his glove over his face.
"It's tough," said catcher Tony Cruz, who noticed in warmups that Martinez was off. "He's a big part of our rotation and has thrown the ball well for us all year. You know he's going to give us a chance to win the ballgame. To watch him walk off there was tough."
Martinez will undergo an MRI exam on Saturday to determine the severity of the injury.
"I don't feel a lot of pain," Martinez said, with teammate Jon Jay translating. "I just feel a little bit of weakness, but I'm not too, too concerned about it. I'm going to wait until tomorrow."
Summoned to work earlier than expected, the Cardinals' bullpen went on to lose a pair of leads. Outfielder Logan Schafer doubled and scored the Brewers' first two runs. Milwaukee then tied the game in the seventh when second baseman Greg Garcia fumbled a two-out grounder.
Unable to capitalize after their first two hitters reached in the eighth, the Cardinals watched as Davis deposited Trevor Rosenthal's third pitch into the home team's bullpen. The homer was the 24th of the season for Davis and just the second allowed by Rosenthal in 67 2/3 innings. He hadn't suffered a loss or blown save since the All-Star break.
"We're playing spoiler alert," said Davis. "[Wins] mean something every day. Every time. Craig [Counsell, Milwaukee's manager] is a winner, and that's what he expects us to do."
The Cardinals led 3-1 after four innings, thanks in large part to Cruz, who doubled and scored in the third and then delivered a sacrifice fly, and Stephen Piscotty, who tallied another RBI hit. All that damage came off Brewers starter Ariel Pena, who lasted five innings. Behind him, the Brewers' bullpen twirled four scoreless innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early exit: In what was scheduled to be his penultimate start of the regular season, Martinez looked off from the get-go. He had trouble finishing through his delivery, and after his seventh pitch, looked like he was trying to loosen his shoulder. That drew everyone to the mound and eventually prompted Martinez's departure. He was emotional as he left.
"They did some tests on him, the medical people, and it was positive what they were seeing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But we'll have to get a better look at it."
Khrushing: No hitter who plays home games below 5,000 feet has as many home runs since the All-Star break as Davis, who has hit 18 of his career-high 24 long balls in the second half. The only Major Leaguer with more homers since the break is Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, who has 25, including one on Friday.
Smith's great escape: Brewers reliever Will Smith has taken some heat for diminished results in the second half, but he delivered a big-time performance in the eighth inning to preserve a 3-3 tie. Smith inherited a runner at first base and no outs, then watched third baseman Luis Sardinas throw a perfect double play grounder into right field for a seemingly costly error. But Smith and catcher Martin Maldonado, each of whom had just entered the game, regained control with a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play, with Smith fanning Jhonny Peralta and Maldonado firing a throw that beat Peter Bourjos to third. Smith then retired Piscotty on a flyout to end the inning.
"I thought Maldy came in and was in there for two innings and made a huge impact on the game," Counsell said. "The throw in the eighth, and then he blocked some balls in the ninth for [closer Francisco Rodriguez, who earned his 36th save]. Those were huge."
Gift wrapped: The Cardinals' defense didn't have a particularly pristine showing. The Brewers scored their first run when Schafer's double tipped off Jason Heyward's glove in right. He came home on a wild pitch. In the seventh, a ball that skipped past shortstop Jhonny Peralta turned into a two-base hit for Jean Segura, who then scored the tying run on a two-out error by Garcia.
"I don't think it was a difficult play," Garcia said. "I let my team down right there. I have to make that play. It was just one of those things where I couldn't get a grip on the ball after, and then you start panicking. That's what you can't do at this level. It will eat you up."
"Wins are always meaningful, regardless of where you're at in the standings. We would prefer to be in a different situation as a team, but there's also a lot of young guys here, and I think winning is something that's learned. For us to beat teams that are going to be in the postseason, it can build confidence. It can make us feel good about our chances as we head into the following season." -- Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun, who lined out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh after missing the previous six games with a stiff back. Braun said he expects to return to Milwaukee's starting lineup on SaturdayMore >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals needed a replay review to help them break a scoreless tie in the third. Cruz was initially ruled out when he slid into second after drilling a ball off the right-field wall. But the call was overturned after a one-minute, 15-second review, and Cruz later scored on a Matt Carpenter single.
The Cardinals later lost their challenge and some momentum with an unsuccessful attempt to overturn a caught stealing call in the eighth. The Brewers completed a double play with a strikeout of Peralta and throw to third to get the pinch-running Bourjos. The call stood after a one-minute, 23-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers:Tyler Wagner will get a second chance to make a first impression when he rejoins Milwaukee's starting rotation on Saturday night. Wagner took a no-decision in his Major League debut against the D-backs on May 31, then returned to Double-A Biloxi and won the Southern League ERA title (2.25). The Brewers recalled him on Tuesday while reconfiguring their rotation for the final two weeks of the season.
Cardinals:Jaime Garcia will seek to become the team's fifth starter to win at least 10 games when he starts against Milwaukee on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT. The Cardinals are 9-1 in Garcia's last 10 starts, and he's gone at least six innings in 14 of his 18 appearances this season.