Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Cardinals Win Fourth Straight, Stymie Brewers

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[April 16, 2014]  MILWAUKEE  After two rough outings to open the season, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller might have found his groove.

Miller, a 23-year-old fireballer in his second full season, continued his mastery of the Brewers, holding Milwaukee to a run and three hits as St. Louis extended its winning streak to four games with a 6-1 victory on Monday night at Miller Park.

"That looks more like Shelby," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The velocity was there. There were a couple times where I know (catcher Yadier Molina) went out and talked to him like he was trying to amp it up a little bit, but for the most part, when he did back off the ball even jumped a little better."

Miller walked three for the third straight start but struck out a season-high seven batters. His only blemish came in the fourth, when third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a two-out home run to left on a 1-0 fastball.

"Milwaukee has a great offense," Miller said. "There's a lot of power in that lineup. Really throughout the whole lineup is pretty solid, so the biggest thing you do is try and keep them off balance as much as possible.

"There's some tough guys that you've got to get out there. But for the most part, 'Yadi' did a good job of mixing it up and I made pitches when it mattered."

Milwaukee hit .320 and averaged seven runs per game on a six-game road trip that sparked a nine-game winning streak. But since returning to Miller Park last Friday, the Brewers are batting .177 and averaging 2.4 runs per game.

The Brewers swept three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates but really hit a wall against St. Louis, which sent Miller and right-hander Lance Lynn to the mound in the first two games and held Milwaukee to a .103 average.

"We were swinging the bats well before these guys came in," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We've faced two good pitchers. He was good tonight. He had a good fastball and mixed in a cutter, the curveball and change. He's got some nice weapons."

Milwaukee did not fare any better with Miller out of the game, failing to get a hit off the Cardinals' bullpen in the final three innings.

Right-hander Tyler Thornburg and left-hander Zach Duke kept St. Louis off the board in the seventh and eighth, respectively, but the Cardinals broke the game open in the ninth against right-hander Jim Henderson, who served up a first-pitch home run to left fielder Matt Holliday.

First baseman Matt Adams singled to left and was retired at second when Molina hit into a fielder's choice. That brought up shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who capped a 2-for-4 night with a two-run homer to left, his team-leading fourth home run of the season and his second in as many nights.

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"It's a little hard to figure out," Roenicke said. "The first pitch he threw was at the knees or maybe a little lower than that, but it's a place that Holliday is really good. The other was a hanging slider. He threw some good sliders today but hung the one to Peralta and that's what he have to get away from."

Brewers starter Marco Estrada was far from sharp but kept his team in the game with a six-inning effort. Estrada (1-1) allowed a walk and five hits but struck out three while holding the Cardinals to three runs.

Estrada might have found himself in an even deeper hole, but for the second consecutive night the Cardinals' chance at a big inning was stifled by the Brewers' defense.

With St. Louis leading 2-0 after RBI doubles by Peralta and right fielder Allen Craig, the Cardinals loaded the bases against Estrada in the fourth.

Adams made the first out of the inning, getting caught between third and home on Peralta's fielder's choice. Peralta moved to second on the play, but after second baseman Mark Ellis made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to left, Peralta was caught trying to score on a base hit by center fielder Peter Bourjous, ending the inning.

NOTES: St. Louis reinstated 2B Mark Ellis from the 15-day disabled list and optioned INF Pete Kozma to Triple-A Memphis. ... Since defeating Milwaukee in the 2011 National League Championship Series, the Cardinals are 25-11 against the Brewers. ... Players from both teams wore No. 42 on their jerseys, part of baseball's celebration of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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