Brewers win streak ends at 7 with loss to Cards
Suddenly, the NL Central race is turning testy.
Lance Berkman singled in the winning run with two out in the 11th to lift St. Louis to an 8-7 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday.
St. Louis' first win at Miller Park in five tries this season snapped Milwaukee's seven-game winning streak and trimmed the Brewers' NL Central lead to 2 1-2 games in an emotionally charged matchup that included Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina being ejected in a heated confrontation with plate umpire Rob Drake. Braun also was hit by Jason Motte in the bottom of the seventh after Albert Pujols was hit earlier in the inning.
"We had a lot of chances to win," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It was an ugly ballgame."
Takashi Saito loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh after he hit Pujols on the left wrist that the slugger broke earlier this season. Holliday, who had homered in the second, followed with a double-play grounder that scored newcomer Rafael Furcal and tied it at 7. Berkman then grounded out to end the threat.
Postgame X-rays on Pujols' hand and wrist were negative.
Tempers flared when Motte hit Braun with a 97 mph fastball.
Drake warned both sides, but didn't eject anyone as Molina walked Braun down to first. Prince Fielder moved forward from the on-deck circle, telling his teammates to stay back to keep the situation from escalating.
"That's clearly intentional. I mean that's ridiculous. There's no way that we were trying to hit Pujols on purpose. You kidding me in that situation?" Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "If we wanted to put him on base, we would have walked him. We were trying to pitch inside and get a ground ball to third base. Just like they did to me."
Motte was removed for Marc Rzepczynski, who walked Prince Fielder. Lance Lynn allowed an infield hit to McGehee. Yuniesky Betancourt popped up harmlessly, Lucroy hit into a fielder's choice to third baseman Daniel Descalso, who cut down Braun at home, and pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay struck out.
"That's the time when you really need to come through with a hit there," Roenicke said. "Everybody's fired up and you've got to bear down and somehow, you've got to get those runs in."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was frustrated at the Brewers pitching Pujols high and tight, though he didn't think anybody was intentionally hit.
"Real scary. They almost got him yesterday. There's nothing intentional about it," La Russa said. "That's what all these idiots up there — not idiots, fans are yelling and yell. Do you know how many bones you have in the hands and the face? That's where those pitches are. And Braun, we were trying to pitch him in, too, it's just a little stinger. I don't want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back when we almost lose (Pujols) in several ways."
Matt Holliday sparked the winning rally by beating out a grounder to shortstop with two out. Holliday then swiped second for his first stolen base of the season and scored when Berkman hit a shallow flare to left against Marco Estrada (2-7).
Kyle McClellan (8-6) allowed a one-out single to Casey McGehee in the 11th, but earned the victory after Octavio Dotel got the final two outs for his first save in the NL this year and second this season.
St. Louis loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but Francisco Rodriguez got Furcal to hit into a fielder's choice and struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot. The excitable K-Rod shouted and pumped his fist, then blew a kiss to the sky as he walked off the mound. Theriot glared at him during the extended celebration.
Both teams had runners on in the ninth and shortstop Furcal saved the game with an over-the-shoulder catch with two on and two out. Drake tossed Molina for arguing a called third strike and the All-Star appeared to hit the umpire with spittle during his tirade. He had to be restrained by Descalso.
Milwaukee held a 3-1 lead before St. Louis scored five times in the fourth against Shaun Marcum, capped when Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia hit a three-run shot for his first career homer.
The Brewers answered with four unearned runs in the fifth on a rally that started after an errant throw by Skip Schumaker at second and ended when Betancourt's three-run homer put Milwaukee ahead 7-6, setting up the wild final innings.
"These are really hard to lose," Roenicke said. "When you think you should win a game, they're hard to lose."
NOTES: The Cardinals filed a complaint with the umpiring crew about the thin LED boards that surround Miller Park's second level, creating different lighting situations in Monday night's game, but would not discuss the matter further. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin also declined comment. ... Brewers LHP Randy Wolf (7-8, 3.44 ERA) will face Cardinals RHP Edwin Jackson (1-0, 1.29 ERA) in Wednesday's series finale. ... Wolf has four consecutive quality starts, but only one win in the stretch. ... Jackson was traded from Chicago last week as part of a three-team trade that sent Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays.
Last updated: 6:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012