Davies dynamite in career-best performance

Starter allows three hits, no walks, fans nine in eight IP

Davies dynamite in career-best performance

MILWAUKEE -- Arguably the best starting pitching performance of the season for the Brewers came against the top offense in the National League.

Zach Davies pitched eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals in Milwaukee's 3-1 win on Wednesday at Miller Park, giving up three singles and not allowing a runner to get past first base.

The Cardinals came into the game having scored 16 runs in the first two games of the series and an NL-best 292 on the season. For nearly the entirety of Wednesday's series finale, however, they could not touch Davies.

"I think the game said it all," Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado said. "You hold that lineup to only three hits -- he was pretty good."

Davies struck out a career-high nine batters without walking a single Redbird, improving to 24 strikeouts and two walks over his last four starts. He retired the last 14 batters he faced, punching out the side and exiting to a standing ovation in the eighth inning.

Davies strikes out the side

"It was just being able to find the bottom of the zone and just being able to command the ball a lot better today, making them put the ball in play early and getting ahead of guys," Davies said.

Now 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA, Davies commanded the game by getting ahead in the count and throwing all four of his pitches -- fastball, changeup, cutter and curveball -- for strikes. He started 20 out of 26 batters faced with a strike. The right-hander threw each of his pitches at least 14 times, finding a rhythm that kept St. Louis hitters off-balance.

"That was really excellent," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He made them responsible, really, because he was ahead in the count so much. They were responsible for four pitches, every kind of pitch in the game. Him and Maldy did nice job with pitch selection, and speeding them up, slowing them down, kind of keeping them guessing.

"I thought they were never comfortable, they were always behind in the count. It was a great pitching performance."

Counsell thought about sending Davies out for the ninth inning to try to complete the shutout, but opted to use rested closer Jeremy Jeffress, instead. With his pitch count at 105, Davies said he didn't ask his skipper to send him out for the ninth.

Davies took the mound just over 14 hours after the Cardinals slugged 10 runs off of Milwaukee pitching in Tuesday's game. Matt Carpenter tallied eight hits in the first two games of the series, but went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Davies and was hitless on the day.

"That's what he's capable of," Counsell said. "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 they were responsible for in every count, and when you're ahead in the count, you can't sit on anything."

According to Bill James' Game Score metric, which rates starting pitching performances on a scale from 0-100, Davies finished with a mark of 85. It was the highest score for any Brewers starter this season.

"It was a good day to not be so forceful with the ball and try to command it a little better and stay within myself," Davies said.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.