Aramis Ramirez drove in five runs Friday night, the 15th time in his 16-year career he has had at least that many, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen lost a seventh-inning lead in a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.
Ramirez had a three-run home run in the first inning to give Milwaukee a 3-1 lead and drove in his fourth run of the night with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly that put the Crew back up by two runs, 4-2.
Starter Johnny Hellweg was only able to last five innings for the Crew, throwing 97 pitches and managing to allow just two runs despite surrendering seven hits, five walks and hitting a batter thanks in large part to three double plays being turned behind him. After Rob Wooten worked a perfect sixth for the Brewers, things got dicey.
Michael Gonzalez came on to work the seventh and, as he has for much of the second half, struggled to get outs. Matt Carpenter lined a one-out double off the wall in left-center field and came around to score when Carlos Beltran doubled off the base of the wall in left field. That was it for Gonzalez, who gave way to setup man Brandon Kintzler.
Kintzler struck out Matt Holliday, but Matt Adams followed with a single to right field to score Beltran to tie it.
Manager Ron Roenicke rolled the dice in the eighth. Kintzler allowed a single to David Freese—a bad hop off the seam between the grass and the dirt prevented first baseman Sean Halton from making a play—and a single to pinch-hitter Adron Chambers to give St. Louis a first-and-third opportunity with one out.
Roenicke brought in closer Jim Henderson, who struck out Carpenter and Beltran to end the threat.
But Henderson didn’t fare so well after coming back out for the ninth. He walked Holliday and Adams followed by launching his 15th home run of the season into the second deck in right field. Donovan Hand came on to get the final three outs, but the Crew went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 6-4.
Jeff Bianchi led off the inning with a double into the left-field corner off Cardinals closer Edward Mujica and moved to third on Norichika Aoki’s single. Logan Schafer—batting for Hand—singled to right to score Bianchi and Jonathan Lucroy worked a walk to load the bases.
That was it for Mujica, who was pulled in favor of … former Brewers All-Star closer John Axford, traded to the Cardinals less than a month ago. Ramirez greeted Axford with a dribbler that third baseman Daniel Descalso over ran. Aoki scored to tie the game on Ramirez’s fifth RBI of the night.
Carlos Gomez followed by hitting a ball right on the screws … right at Descalso, who started a 5-2-3 double play to get St. Louis out of the inning.
Michael Blazek came on to pitch the 10th for Milwaukee and walked pinch-hitter Kolten Wong after an epic 12-pitch battle and Carpenter followed with a single to right-center to send the speedy Wong to third. Beltran hit a fly ball to the warning track in right, more than deep enough to score Wong, and the Cardinals had a 7-6 lead.
Carlos Martinez, a 21-year-old rookie, came out of the St. Louis bullpen for his first career save opportunity—majors or minors—and retired the side in order to preserve the Cardinals seventh win in eight games at Miller Park this season.
Axford (7-7) got the win for the Cardinals, his first decision since the Aug. 31 deal, and Blazek (0-1)—who was the player to be named later in the same trade—took the loss.
The Cardinals banged out 16 hits—three each by Carpenter, Holliday and Adams. Milwaukee had 13 hits of its own, including a 4-for-4 night by Aoki, who scored three times and also drew a walk. Ramirez was 3-for-4 with five RBI and Bianchi had a pair of hits.
The Brewers also did some damage against Shelby Miller … finally. The rookie right-hander had dominated the Crew in four previous starts, but surrendered four runs on seven hits in six innings on Friday night, raising his ERA this year against Milwaukee to 2.03.
The series continues Saturday night with a 6:10 p.m. contest at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo (11-9) is scheduled to pitch for the Brewers against Lance Lynn (13-10) for the Cardinals. The game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
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