MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies did what few others have this season, silencing the red-hot Cardinals bats over eight shutout innings as the Brewers won, 3-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park to salvage the series.
After Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia baffled the Brewers in a one-hit shutout on April 14, this time Milwaukee's first four batters of the game reached base. Ryan Braun and Chris Carter drove in first-inning runs and Martin Maldonado clubbed his first home run of the season in support of Davies.
St. Louis scored 16 runs over the first two games of the series, but Davies responded by hurling the best start of his career, surrendering only three singles and retiring the last 14 batters he faced.
"It's hard to get much better than that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's what he's capable of. Against a very good offensive team, he has the ability to pitch like that. It's fun to watch when a guy pitches like that. He was on the attack. There were four pitches that they were responsible for in every count."
Davies struck out the side in the eighth inning and exited to a standing ovation from the crowd. Davies struck out a career-high nine batters and yielded no walks in picking up his third win of the season.
"He just made quality pitches," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "His changeup was a plus pitch today. He used his breaking ball to seal strikes early in the count, but it was about fastball location and chases out of the zone with the changeup. He made good pitches. His stuff was good. His numbers might not show it, but he didn't make a whole lot of mistakes today."
Garcia gave up two runs in the first inning, but settled in to hold Milwaukee scoreless the rest of his start. In dropping to 4-5 on the season, he allowed five hits and three walks in five innings. That included a leadoff walk that sparked the Brewers' two-run first inning.
"I started the game the way I never wanted to start a game, and that walk cost me big time," Garcia said. "No excuse for it. I just have to be able to get the first guy of the inning out. ... It's not the way you want to start an inning or a game."
Jeremy Jeffress gave up a pinch-hit home run to Brandon Moss in the ninth, but he retired the next three batters to collect his 13th save of the season and first since May 24.
It was the Crew's first home win against St. Louis in six tries, dating back to last season.
"We had some tough losses, so it was good to finish out the series with a win and not get swept by them," Davies said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED From the green flag: The first four batters of the game reached base to jump-start the Brewers to an early 2-0 lead. Jonathan Villar, who has now reached base safely in 46 of 51 games this season, led off with a walk and Hernan Perez followed with a single. Braun slapped a single past first baseman Matt Adams for his 32nd RBI and third baseman Matt Carpenter couldn't make a throw on Carter's infield single as Perez scored.
"We did a nice job," Counsell said. "Garcia was a little bit off most of the day, really. We had some rallies going. We didn't get the big hit to bust it open, but the first inning was good. The first inning was big."
Busy basepaths: The damage against Garcia could have been much worse had the Cardinals lefty not been able to quash a pair of bases-loaded opportunities by the Brewers. He stranded the bases full in the first, an inning in which Garcia needed 28 pitches. He did so again in the third after allowing hits to two of the first three batters he faced. The damage control kept the game tight enough to give the Cardinals' offense a chance.
"It was just one of those that I think he was having trouble finding the feel on a consistent basis," Matheny said. "But still, he only gave up a couple runs on five hits. But [he] had a lot of traffic and a lot of stress innings."
Insurance policy: In each of his first two at-bats, Maldonado stranded the bases loaded to end the inning. He atoned for those with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth inning by hitting his first long ball of the season 417 feet to left-center field at 102 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™.
"I had a good swing on a good pitch to hit, so I didn't miss it," Maldonado said.
Carpenter corralled: After blasting Brewers pitching for eight hits in the first two games of this series, Cardinals leadoff hitter Carpenter was held hitless in four at-bats. He entered the day with a chance to join Stan Musial as the only players in franchise history to string together three straight four-hit games.
"I don't like being up with men on base, so I'm saving my hits for when nobody's on base." -- Maldonado, joking after leaving the bases loaded twice but hitting a solo homer in the sixth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Moss' pinch-hit blast was his third of the season and 10th by Cardinals pinch-hitters through the team's first 54 games. That ties a franchise season record set by the 1998 club. The Cardinals are positioned to make a run at the Major League record for pinch-hit homers as well. That mark is 14, reached by the 2001 Giants and 2001 D-backs. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Garcia got some help from instant replay to help him navigate through a complicated first inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Garcia induced a ground ball that Adams fumbled. Though the double play was foiled by the blunder, Adams recovered to flip to Garcia, who was covering first. First-base umpire Ted Barrett ruled that Garcia was still juggling the ball as Ramon Flores reached the base, but a 48-second review overturned the call to give Garcia the out.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: A quick road trip begins on Thursday when the Crew takes on the the Phillies at 6:05 p.m. CT. Chase Anderson will take the mound in his first start since being drilled in the back by an Alfredo Simon pitch last Saturday. Milwaukee is 3-7 in games started by Anderson.
Cardinals: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Cardinals will open a three-game homestand against the National League West-leading Giants. First pitch for Friday's series opener is slated for 7:15 p.m. CT. Adam Wainwright will make his team-leading 12th start. The Cardinals have won each of his last seven starts.