MILWAUKEE -- Much to the Cardinals' delight, Yadier Molina delivered his latest bold statement not on social media, but with a pair of swings Wednesday night that boosted his team to a 5-4 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Having spent the last week defending his activity on Instagram, Molina shifted attention back to on-field matters by securing his second multi-homer game of the season to back spot starter Luke Weaver and even the three-game series. The succession of solo shots came almost exactly 10 years after Molina tallied his first career multi-homer game, also by going deep in consecutive at-bats in Milwaukee.
"He's our captain. He's our leader," second baseman Kolten Wong said of Molina. "The St. Louis Cardinals is Yadier Molina. We're going to hop on his back whenever he's going. When he goes, we go."
The Cardinals needed the two blasts and a two-run double by Wong to help hold off the Brewers' late offensive push. Hernan Perez's RBI single chased Weaver in the seventh, and Jesus Aguilar pulled Milwaukee to within one with an eighth-inning, pinch-hit homer that snapped reliever John Brebbia's streak of 14 scoreless appearances.
Molina's three-hit performance spoiled the night for Brewers starter Brent Suter, who allowed as many runs (five) over 5 1/3 innings on Wednesday as he had over 30 innings in July.
"He was good, just, Yadier Molina got him. That was really the story of the game," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Molina is the first hitter we've seen that has had a big game against him."
Said Suter: "He was seeing me well. Some of those pitches weren't bad pitches, they were pitches I was getting away with and getting swings and misses from other guys. He just hammered all of them, so you've got to tip your hat. That guy's on his way to the Hall of Fame, so if you're going to give them up, you might as well give them up to one of the best in the game."
"I think when those guys got on third and second, I just had that aggressive mentality and just felt like they weren't going to get a hit," Weaver said. "I think that worked in my advantage, [having] that intent and conviction, and I showed myself I can get out of it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Adding on: Weaver stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth inning, and the Cardinals responded to the escape by adding three runs to their lead in the top of the sixth while chasing Suter from the game. Molina led off the inning with his second home run of the night, and Jose Martinez and Luke Voit continued the rally with singles. With two outs and Jeremy Jeffress on in place of Suter for Jeffress' first appearance since the Brewers re-acquired their former closer in a trade with Texas, Wong delivered a two-run double that extended the lead to 5-1.
"I'm just trying to do a job," Wong said. "Obviously, the start of the game for me wasn't the prettiest. But knowing that I'm the leadoff batter, I know I'm going to get chances to change the game somehow or do something to help the team win."
Back in it: The Brewers had one hit in their previous 42 at-bats with runners in scoring position, including five fruitless at-bats in the first six innings of Wednesday's game, but that began to turn thanks to a pair of pinch-hitters. Perez's RBI single in the seventh inning cut into the Cardinals' lead before Aguilar connected against Brebbia with a runner at second base and one out in the eighth for his 10th home run. Suddenly, it was a one-run game.
"We're hanging in there. Our confidence is still there. We're battling. A lot of these games are one-run games or two-run games that are nail-biting games. We got one [Tuesday] night but unfortunately we were not able to come all the way back tonight." -- Suter, on the Brewers' 12th loss in 16 games
"I didn't necessarily want him to go four outs today, but we didn't have [Seung Hwan] Oh [available due to illness]. We had to get some outs by Brebbia and got right down to it and threw it into [Trevor Rosenthal's] hands because he has been so good. He continues to do a great job." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on why he turned to Brebbia in a setup role and then pushed Rosenthal through a four-out save
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Matheny challenged in the ninth inning after Brewers catcher Manny Pina threw out Tommy Pham trying to steal second base. It took only 45 seconds to determine the call would be upheld.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals will wrap up their series in Milwaukee by sending Michael Wacha to the mound in Thursday's 1:10 p.m. CT game. Wacha has been on a roll as of late and will enter the game 5-1 with a 1.86 ERA in his last six starts. He has never lost against the Brewers.
Brewers:Matt Garza will come off the disabled list to take the mound in Thursday's series finale. The righty spent a week nursing a lower right calf strain, which he said he acquired doing running drills after his most recent start in Philadelphia. He is 6-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 15 career starts against the Cardinals, including a 7-6 victory on June 14 at Busch Stadium.