Brewers knock Cards back with win

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[September 12, 2016]  ST. LOUIS -- There was a reason, as Sunday's game went to the eighth inning, that it seemed familiar to Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.

With the Brewers ahead 1-0, Counsell felt like he was watching a replay of the game approximately 18 hours earlier against the St. Louis Cardinals. All Counsell wanted to see this time was a different ending.

Thanks to Ryan Braun, he got to do just that.

Unlike Saturday night, when the Cardinals scored five runs in the eighth, they only scored one on Sunday, tying the game, and setting the stage for Ryan Braun to hit a home run in the top of the ninth which gave the Brewers a 2-1 win.

"They only got one run in the eighth," Counsell said. "That was big."

The loss, combined with the Mets' 10-3 win over the Braves, dropped the Cardinals out of the second wild-card spot. They now trail New York by a half-game.

The loss also was the 39th at home this season for the Cardinals, the most they have had since moving into the current Busch Stadium in 2006. They are 32-39 with 10 home games left in the regular season.

Starter Zach Davies had protected the 1-0 lead for the Brewers since the first inning, when Chris Carter's sacrifice fly followed a pair of singles against the Cardinals' Luke Weaver. Davies had allowed only four hits through the first seven innings, keeping the Cardinals hitless in seven at-bats with a runner in scoring position.

Matt Carpenter led off the eighth with a double and took third on groundout by Kolten Wong. That ended Davies' day, and his bid for a win disappeared when Stephen Piscotty hit a sacrifice fly on the first pitch from reliever Tyler Thornburg.

That was all the Cardinals could get in the inning, and with one out in the ninth Braun connected on a 3-2 fastball from Kevin Siegrist for his 27th homer of the season.

"We know how good this team is this year and every year," Braun said of the Cardinals. "They compete to fight. They are so good fundamentally. When they get a runner in scoring position, you know they'll probably get him in. They did there in the eighth but it wasn't like last night. We stopped them."

Braun's homer was his first against the Cardinals since April 14, 2013, a span of 205 at-bats.

"It was nice to pull this one out for sure," Braun said. "The pitch I hit was on the black in. He (Siegrist) is so explosive with his fastball. It's 92-93 but it feels faster. There's good deception in his delivery."

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Rookie Carson Kelly made his first start behind the plate for the Cardinals, one year and two days after he caught Weaver in the final playoff game of the year for Class A Palm Beach. He was in the dugout for Saturday night's rally, and thought for a while that Sunday's game was going to play out the same way.

"I thought we were going to do it again," Kelly said. "Unfortunately it didn't work out. I went back and looked at the pitch to Braun, it was a good pitch."

The loss dropped the Cardinals to 0-8 this season when they had a chance to move a season-high 10 games over .500.

The Cardinals were held without a home run for the second consecutive game for the first time since Aug. 7-8. They did hit two fly balls to the warning track in center field, but each was tracked down by Keon Broxton. The Cardinals lead the National League with 204 homers.

"We've just got to figure out how to score more runs," said Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny. " We squared up two balls that almost all this year would have been gone. The ball wasn't jumping."

It did, however, jump for Braun.

"One pitch, that was the difference," Matheny said.

NOTES: The Cardinals activated SS Aledmys Diaz from the disabled list before Sunday's game. He has been out since July 31 because of a broken thumb. ... Cardinals' RHP Michael Wacha, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 9, is expected to throw live batting practice on Monday as he tries to become a bullpen option for the team before the end of the regular season. ... The 2017 option in the contract of Cardinals RHP Seung Hwan Oh automatically vested when he finished his 30th game on Friday night. Oh will receive a raise to $2.75 million next season. ... After RHP Corey Knebel endured the loss in Saturday night's game, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said it is likely he will be used in lower-leverage situations in the near future. Knebel has allowed nine runs in his last 4 2/3 innings, covering six games.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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