Brewers fall to Cards in finale
Milwaukee manages just four hits against surging St. Louis
MILWAUKEE -- They all shaved their heads on Thursday morning, but that act of team unity did nothing to stop their freefall.And it is obvious even to opponents that the Brewers are a team "fighting it" right now. "They look like a team that's pressing," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. "They're looking for something good to happen." Little good came out of Thursday's game for the home team. Starter Dave Bush (9-9) made it through seven innings, but got no support in the Brewers' 8-0 loss to the Cardinals at Miller Park. Cards catcher Yadier Molina homered twice -- his second and third long balls this season -- and drove in three runs as St. Louis finished a three-game sweep and pulled within 2 1/2 games of the reeling National League Central Division leaders. The Brewers have lost six straight games to the Cardinals, eight of their last 10 games overall and 19 of their last 28. Given the way his team has played, manager Ned Yost admitted with surprising candor that he is surprised to see his team still sitting in first place. "Yeah," Yost said. "But we are, and it's a good thing. We still have control of our own destiny. We have to find a way to get better -- I mean not get better, but play better -- and we have to do it in a hurry. "But, yeah, we're still in first place." Barely. The Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday and trail by just a half-game, two games ahead of the resurgent Cardinals. Even though they are down to 41 games to play, the Brewers are getting increasingly testy when asked about the pennant race. "I don't really care what the standings are, in all honesty," Bush said. "That's for you guys to look at. I've been hearing about the Cubs for three months now and I quite honestly don't really care. Regardless of where we are, we need to keep coming out trying to win. It's going to take a lot more wins to get to the playoffs right now, no matter what kind of lead we have." The Brewers were shut out on two hits over seven innings by Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (11-9), who allowed three walks and set a career high with eight strikeouts. Wainwright's toughest jam came in the third inning, when he surrendered a Gabe Gross double and walked the next two hitters before getting Ryan Braun on a called third strike to end the inning. The Cardinals only had a 1-0 lead at that point and it proved a crucial at-bat. Braun took a few steps toward first after the pitch, a curveball on the inside corner, but was rung up by plate umpire Mike Everitt. "He threw an inside curveball on the black to Ryan Braun," Yost said. "He throws it anywhere out over the plate and I think Ryan Braun's either going to foul it off or hit it hard, but he did what big league pitchers are supposed to do. He made a big pitch at the right time." It is tough to call a third-inning event a turning point, but it felt like one in the visitors' dugout. "I was scared to death in the dugout," La Russa said. "[The Brewers] have got a lot of ways to explode. Something will click and they'll start playing well." Despite Bush's quality start, Brewers starting pitchers fell to 1-9 with a 7.43 ERA over their last 17 games. Bush topped the 40-pitch mark before the end of the second inning and threw a season-high 127 pitches over seven innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk. Molina did all of the damage against Bush, hitting a two-strike, two-out solo home run in the second inning and a two-strike, two-out, two-run home run in the fourth. He batted in the No. 7 spot, with the pitcher Wainwright hitting eighth for St. Louis. "As a pitcher, I prefer to have their pitcher leading off the next inning," Bush said. "Most of the time I'll take my chances with [the previous hitter] at the plate, regardless of who it is." Molina's first homer came on a curveball. He hit a changeup for the second. Bush was not sure whether either pitch hit the location he was looking for. "I chose not to look at it," Bush said. Making his first start since returning to the Brewers on Wednesday from Triple-A Nashville, Gross had two of the team's three hits through eight innings and Milwaukee was still within striking distance down 3-0. But it got downright ugly in the ninth inning, when Brewers reliever Derrick Turnbow was charged with five earned runs despite allowing only one hit -- David Eckstein's bases-clearing double. Turnbow struck out Chris Duncan to open the inning, but Duncan reached on a wild pitch, and the next two hitters walked. Turnbow struck out Aaron Miles looking for out No. 1, but Eckstein yanked a three-run double to the left-field corner. Turnbow then walked Ryan Ludwick and was pulled from the game. Eckstein scored when Bill Hall missed a sliding catch, and Ludwick scored when a Brendan Ryan popup fell in left field between a charging Geoff Jenkins and retreating shortstop J.J. Hardy. Jenkins was slapped with an error. "Any time you're not playing well, you're not playing with as much confidence as you would be if you're on a 10-game winning streak," Gross said. "But I personally don't think there's anybody in this locker room that doesn't fully expect to be playing in October. I don't think that attitude has changed at all."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.