May 2 – Brewers 4, Cardinals 0

On Wednesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals lost 4-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. The reeling Redbirds suffered their fifth straight loss and were swept in the three-game series. The Cards are in sole ownership of last place in the National League Central Division, 7.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.

In the second inning, Aaron Miles shot a liner off the knee of Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano, who fell to the ground, but Miles was retired as the ball bounced to Prince Fielder at first. The pitcher remained in the game for the third inning, but was pinch-hit for in the home third after allowing no runs on two hits. Carlos Villanueva took over on the mound.

The Brewers made their first noise in the fourth inning, scoring two. In a scoreless game, J.J. Hardy's lead off single broke up Anthony Reyes' no-hit bid. Bill Hall walked with one out. With two down, Corey Hart's hard-hit ball shot off the edge of the grass and eluded Scott Rolen at third base as Hardy scored. Reyes stepped off first base as Hart took off for second. Reyes faked to third and threw to second, but the call at second base was "safe", despite replays showing the tag was applied in time by Eckstein. While this was going on, Hall took off and came home safely with the second run on what was scored a double steal. Futile arguments ensued (see photo).

The Brew Crew added two more runs in the fifth. Scott Spiezio's error in right field started it off, putting Tony Graffanino at second. Reyes then walked Rickie Weeks and Hardy to load the bases. Fielder's single collected two RBI to double the lead. It was Milwaukee's third hit of the afternoon.

The Cards missed a great chance in the sixth. Chris Duncan walked with one out. For the Cards' third hit of the game, Pujols stung a single to center and Rolen was hit by a pitch to lead the bases. Spiezio fanned swinging and Gary Bennett's fly ball to left died on the track – a few feet separating a tie game from a four-run deficit. More importantly, the boost to the slumping Cardinals could have been huge.

Reyes threw 91 pitches, of which 61 were strikes. He fanned eight, but walked four and departed in favor of Ryan Frankin to start the seventh. After Franklin fanned the side, Tyler Johnson pitched the eighth. Bill Hall doubled with one down and with two out, the Maytag repairman, Jason Isringhausen, came in to get the final out.

The Cardinals were unable to put together a serious threat after the sixth and lost 4-0, despite outhitting the Brewers, 5-4.

Game Notes

- The Brewers own a 1-4 record against the Cardinals this season after the Redbirds held a 9-7 advantage in 2006.

- The sweep was the Brewers' first over the Cards in their home park since they defeated St. Louis in all four of a four-game series in April, 2002. This was despite the fact that the Cards outhit the Brewers in two of the three games.

- The Cardinals had the lead off man on base just four of the 27 innings in the entire Brewers series.

- Scott Rolen is slumping again. The third baseman is in the midst of a 0-for-14 stretch and went 0-for-10 against the Brewers this series. (Rolen was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning.)

- Albert Pujols is stinging the ball, but where before, he was been hitting it right at defenders, now they are landing. He went 3-for-4 on Wednesday, all singles. Unfortunately, the rest of the Cardinals line up had just two hits among them.

- David Eckstein spent his second game in the eighth spot in the batting order. It doesn't look like it is helping. After going 1-for-3 with a walk Tuesday, he went 0-for-4 on Wednesday. It is the shortstop's first time in a spot other than leadoff since late in the 2004 season - before he joined the Cardinals from the Angels as a free agent.

- The grieving Cardinals head next to Tupelo, MS for Thursday's memorial service for fallen teammate Josh Hancock. Next up on the field for the 10-16 club is a three-game home series against the also-reeling Houston Astros over the weekend.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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