Brewers start fast, hold off Cardinals 9-3 to win series

©St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Cardinals left fielder Austin Dean failed to catch one ball which he misjudged in the first inning. New center fielder Lane Thomas couldn’t make a sliding catch on another ball that went for a double in the first.

Nobody could catch Avisail Garcia’s second homer in two days, a two-drive into the Milwaukee bullpen. And Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon also walked the opposing pitcher, Brett Anderson, capping a four-run Brewers opening frame Sunday at Busch Stadium.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt decided to leave Ponce de Leon in to face Lorenzo Cain, who had started the inning with the double over Dean’s head. And when Ponce de Leon retired Cain on a fly out to end the inning, the righthander was allowed to come back out for the second.

That didn’t work out as Travis Shaw cracked a three-run homer, caused Ponce de Leon’s removal and led the Brewers to a 9-3 win and a two-out-of-three series victory over the Cardinals.

Johan Oviedo, who replaced Ponce de Leon, drove in a run on his first major league at-bat, grounding to second with the bases loaded to shove home a run in the second inning.

Oviedo, who started five games for the Cardinals in 2020, also blanked the Brewers for 4 2/3 innings in which he gave up just two hits and walked two.

But the Cardinals couldn’t come up with a big hit when they had Milwaukee starter Anderson cornered a couple of times and they ran themselves out of an inning in the sixth after Dean had shot a double over the first-base bag to knock in two runs.

With the score 7-3, runners at second and third and no one out, Thomas bounced a ball over the mound where reliever Eric Yardley made a leaping stab. Dean already had taken off toward third, where Carlson had stayed, seeing Yardley make the play.

Yardley didn’t immediately see Dean apparently and threw to first for the first out. First baseman Daniel Vogelbach still had time to initiate a rundown of Dean, who was much closer to third than to second and shortstop Luis Urias tagged Dean after he had joined Carlson, who had taken a couple of steps toward home but returned to third base. The base already belonged to Carlson, so Dean was out when tagged.

Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter, nothing for 12 after a two-for-37 spring training, then drilled a long fly to the warning track where it was tracked down by Garcia. That fly ball would have scored a run had there been but one out, which there should have been.

The Cardinals’ bullpen again was staunch.

Jordan Hicks, working multiple innings for the first time since 2019, hurled 1 1/3 scoreless innings, Tyler Webb pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth.

Genesis Cabrera allowed a two-run homer to Manny Pina in the ninth after a throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong, who went hitless again, stretching his hitless streak to 24 at-bats with 11 strikeouts although he didn't fan on Sunday.

In nine games, Cardinals starters have worked 38 2/3 innings and the bullpen 40 1/3. Meanwhile, the outstanding Milwaukee bullpen of lefthander Josh Hader and St. Louis native righthander Devin Williams didn't throw a pitch in the series.