Rookie Sean Halton has been sort of a forgotten man for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he did his best on Thursday night to keep his name in manager Ron Roenicke’s mind and—more importantly—on the lineup card.
Halton had an RBI single and a two-run homer as the Crew salvaged the final game of a three-game series at St. Louis, beating the Cardinals 5-3. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for St. Louis and, coupled with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, dropped the Cards into a tie atop the National League Central Division.
For Halton, it was his first start since Friday at Chicago and just his second since roster were expanded on Sept. 1. But with Juan Francisco, the left-handed hitting part of the Brewers’ platoon at first base, in a horrific slump, Halton got the call and responded.
Francisco is just 7-for-51 since Aug. 15 with one homer, two RBI and a whopping 26 strikeouts. He flew out in a pinch-hitting appearance on Thursday.
Halton drove home Milwaukee’s second run with a single past a drawn-in infield in the second inning and then lined a two-run homer just over the barrier in left field in the top of the fourth to put the Crew up 4-0.
That was more than enough offense for Tyler Thornburg, who was making his first start since Sept. 2 against the Pirates. Thornburg went six innings on Thursday, allowing two runs and three hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts and got his first major-league win as a starter to improve to 2-1 overall on the season. His previous win came against the Philadelphia Phillies in a relief role on June 8.
St. Louis starter Joe Kelly (8-4) had his personal five-start and eight-decision winning streaks snapped. He lasted five innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Kelly helped cause some of his own problems. A wild pitch in the first inning led to a run and he cost himself with the first of his two second-inning throwing errors.
Scooter Gennett got things started for the Crew with a one-out single in the first and advanced a base on a single by Jonathan Lucroy. With Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Kelly uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runners and Ramirez brought home the game’s first run with a groundout to shortstop.
The Crew made it 2-0 in the second. Logan Schafer led off with a single and went to third when Kelly’s pickoff throw got away from first baseman Matt Adams. Halton brought in Schafer with a single past Pete Kozma.
Halton’s second home run of the season came with one out in the fourth. Carlos Gomez led off the inning with a line single up the middle and moved up on Schafer’s grounder.
Thornburg’s only real problems came in the fourth. Jon Jay led off the inning with a single to center and scored on Matt Holliday’s double into the left-field corner.
The third base umpire Phil Cuzzi initially ordered Jay back to third base, saying a fan interfered with the ball as it bounced around near the wall in the left-field corner, but Jay was ordered home after a conference between the umpires. Holliday later scored on a sacrifice fly by David Freese that cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-2.
The Crew added an insurance run in the ninth thanks in part to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opting for a lefty-lefty matchup with Norichika Aoki that favored the Brewers.
Pinch-hitter Yuniesky Betancourt lined a single to left field off reliever Seth Maness and Matheny made his move, bringing in left-handed fireballer Kevin Siegrist to face the lefty-swinging Aoki.
But Aoki came into the game hitting .340 (54-for-159) against left-handers, the best mark for any left-handed hitter in the majors. Aoki smoked a into the right-center field gap that got all the way to the wall for a triple, scoring Betancourt.
The Cardinals got the run back in the bottom of the ninth when Adams homered, his second in as many games and 13th of the year, off closer Jim Henderson.
Rob Wooten worked a scoreless seventh for the Crew and Brandon Kintzler—despite throwing 30 pitches Wednesday night—shut the Cardinals out in the eighth to set the stage for Henderson to get his 25th save.
Gennett and Lucroy each had two hits for the Crew. Milwaukee returns to Miller Park on Friday night to begin its last homestand of the season against the Cincinnati Reds. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. Central Time. Kyle Lohse (9-9) is set to start for the Brewers, with Mat Latos (14-5) slated to go for the Reds.
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