Perez leads hits parade as Brewers blast Cardinals

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[September 09, 2016]  ST. LOUIS -- In his career, St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia has been very tough against the Milwaukee Brewers, entering Thursday night's game with an 11-5 record and 2.61 ERA.

But that version of Garcia didn't show up, replaced instead by the one that keeps forcing the bullpen into action early in games.

Failing to last past five innings for the fourth time in his last five starts, Garcia ate his fourth straight loss as Milwaukee pounded out 17 hits in a 12-5 rout that dropped St. Louis out of a tie for the National League's second wild card spot.

Garcia (10-12) worked just 3 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and five runs with a walk and three strikeouts. It was a far cry from his previous two outings at Busch Stadium against the Brewers this year, 7-0 and 8-1 wins in which he gave up just a run in 17 innings, fanning 13 in the first game.

So what was the difference in this Garcia from the one who Milwaukee couldn't touch?

"I think he made more mistakes over the middle of the plate," Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado said. "In the past, when we had him on the ropes, he'd find a way to get out of the inning."

Not this time. Milwaukee (63-77) signaled a sea change in the second inning with back-to-back two-out solo homers by Domingo Santana, his seventh, and Orlando Arcia, his third.

The Brewers collected two more runs in the third on an infield out by Ryan Braun and an RBI double by Hernan Perez, who led their onslaught by going 4-for-5 with three RBIs. It was the second time in three days that Perez bagged four hits, tying a career high.

Even when Garcia got an out, things managed to go wrong. In the process of fanning pitcher Junior Guerra for the fourth inning's second out, Garcia tossed a wild pitch that allowed Arcia to score for a 5-1 advantage.

Following a four-pitch walk to Jonathan Villar, Garcia left, the fans cheering derisively as manager Mike Matheny waved for Miguel Socolovich.

"Early on, I felt pretty good," Garcia said. "I was able to make some good pitches. After that, I just didn't get the job done. It was just a bad day overall."

Kolten Wong's two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth drew the Cardinals (73-66) within 5-3, but Milwaukee treated reliever Mike Mayers even more harshly than Garcia.

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After Chris Carter's sacrifice fly in the fifth gave the Brewers a three-run lead, Maldonado cracked a two-strike, two-run homer off Mayers in the sixth to make it 8-3. Two more hits and a walk knocked out Mayers, and reliever Dean Kiekhefer coughed up a sacrifice fly to Braun, a two-run double to Perez and an RBI single to Santana for a 12-3 cushion.

The last 3 1/2 innings were a slog to the final out as Milwaukee won for the seventh time in eight games -- the only loss was at the Chicago Cubs' hands -- and extended its road winning streak to a season-high five games.

"This is largely a group that's going to be around next year," manager Craig Counsell said. "There's competition for playing time, and that helps."

Arcia finished with three hits, tying his career high, while Maldonado went 2-for-4. Even Guerra (8-3) produced a pair of hits in addition to pitching five innings for the win. Guerra gave up six hits and three runs, walking two and fanning two.

The result dropped St. Louis a half-game behind the New York Mets for the second wild card spot and a full game behind San Francisco for the first wild card. The Cardinals fell to 30-38 at Busch Stadium, their most losses in the stadium's 11-season existence.

"We're going to have to clean it all up," manager Mike Matheny said.

NOTES: St. Louis RHP Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session Wednesday and reported no ill effects. Wacha, who's been disabled since Aug. 9, is hopeful of contributing as a member of the bullpen before the season ends. ... Milwaukee 3B Jonathan Villar's two-homer game against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night was the fourth in franchise history by a switch-hitter. ... Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz (right thumb fracture) started a rehab assignment at Double-A Springfield Wednesday night, going 0-for-4. He'll play again Friday night.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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