Brewer pitcher wins first at Busch Stadium
Wolf, who tinkered with his windup between starts, allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings, and Prince Fielder hit one of three Milwaukee home runs to lead the Brewers to a 4-1 victory over St. Louis.
The Brewers, who have won eight of their last 11, lead the National League with 99 homers.
Wolf (6-7) gave up four hits, including a leadoff home run to Albert Pujols in the seventh inning. Wolf struck out four and walked one despite entering the game with a major-league high 50 walks. He had struggled mightily in June with a 1-3 mark and a 5.91 ERA.
But he bounced back with one of his strongest efforts of the season on Thursday to claim his first win at Busch Stadium in five career starts.
“My command was better, obviously,” Wolf said. “I think that little adjustment definitely helped. It was something really small. It had to do with closing my hips earlier in my delivery.”
During an off-day bullpen session under the direction of pitching coach Rick Peterson, Wolf made a few changes, which made a world of difference.
“He was really coming at the hitters and attacking the zone,” Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras said. “He was throwing everything for strikes.”
Wolf’s only mistake came against Pujols, who picked on a 1-2 pitch and sent it into the left-field bleachers for his league-leading 19th home run and 385th of his career, tying him with Jim Edmonds and Dwight Evans for 53rd on the all-time list.
“He located his fastball pretty well,” Pujols said. “He was aggressive.”
Kottaras and infielder Casey McGehee also homered for the Brewers, who scored all of their runs on homers. Fielder hit his 18th of the season off reliever Fernando Salas in the eighth for a 4-1 lead. It was the 14th solo homer of the season for Fielder and the first career home run given up by Salas.
“We don’t try to hit homers, you know,” Kottaras said. “We go up there and have a game plan and just try to put the barrel of the bat on the ball.
“When you do that, homers happen.”
Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart added a double in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.
McGehee hit his 13th homer of the season in the second inning off St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth, who gave up three runs and six hits over six innings. Hawksworth (2-5) struck out a career-high seven and walked one.
“I think he made mostly good pitches,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “He got a few balls in front and they got a lot of the plate.”
Kottaras hit a two-run homer in the fifth for a 3-0 lead. The blow brought in Alcides Escobar, who singled to start the inning. Escobar had three hits.
Kameron Loe relieved Wolf in the seventh with runners on first and third and one out. He induced Yadier Molina to ground into a double play. Loe also got Pujols to pop out with two on and two outs to end the eighth.
“Big outs. Couldn’t have done it without him,” Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said.
Closer John Axford worked the ninth to pick up his ninth save in as many chances.
n Macha said RHP Doug Davis’ third rehab start with Class-A Wisconsin against Quad Cities went well. Davis threw 99 pitches in seven innings, allowing one run.
n Fielder had 10 home runs in June to lead the majors.
n McGehee has hit safely in 31 of 37 road games this season.