Brewers top Cardinals, stay alive in wild-card chase
ST. LOUIS — The owner of two World Series rings as a player, Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell knows a little something about big-game pressure.
“At this point, every single performance is magnified,” he said Friday night. “When you need to win games, everything is big.”
Take, for instance, the effort of Counsell’s starting pitcher in a win-or-die game. Chase Anderson worked into the eighth inning and retired 18 of 19 hitters at one stage, leading Milwaukee to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium.
Anderson (12-4) gave up three hits and a run, departing after issuing his only walk to Magneuris Sierra to start the eighth. Anderson fanned five and obtained 14 outs via grounders in his longest outing since June 17.
“I’ve been working hard, getting better and trying to evolve,” Anderson said. “Having four pitches to rely on every outing has been big. My mentality is to earn everything. It’s how I thrive.”
Only two St. Louis hitters worked their way into scoring position against Anderson. Greg Garcia led off with a single and made it to third before Jose Martinez’s bouncer to short stranded him in the first.
Paul DeJong needed no help to score, rifling a 403-foot solo shot to left-center field in the fourth for the first of his three hits. Otherwise, it was Anderson working quickly, mixing pitches and efficiently retiring one man after another.
“Chase was outstanding on the biggest night of the year,” Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt said. “When I faced him last year, he was all about the changeup. His curve has emerged this year as a pitch that can rival his changeup.”
If Anderson was the Brewers’ first star, Vogt was their second. He went 2-for-4 and knocked in their first three runs. Vogt blooped a single to left in the second to start the scoring, cracked a solo shot to right-center field in the fourth and made it 3-1 in the sixth on a groundout.
With Manny Pina on the shelf, Vogt has shouldered the catching load down the stretch and is holding up just fine. He’s 7-for-16 in his last four games.
“Great day for Stephen,” Counsell said. “He executed the one at-bat when we needed it and did a nice job all the way around.”
Milwaukee (85-75) also got an RBI fielder’s choice from Orlando Arcia in the sixth as Domingo Santana beat a hurried throw home on a slow bouncer to short for a 4-1 lead.
Eric Thames capped the Brewers’ scoring in the ninth with an RBI single to right.
However, Milwaukee made up no ground on Colorado, which routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-1. The Rockies remain two games ahead on the Brewers for the National League’s last wild-card spot with two games remaining.
“We can’t control what happens there,” Vogt said of Colorado’s games. “We just have to win tomorrow and let the chips fall where they do. We need the Dodgers to win two games. We need some luck.”
John Gant (0-1) pitched five-plus innings in just his second start for the Cardinals (82-78), yielding seven hits and four runs. Gant walked three and struck out three.
It was the sixth loss in seven games for St. Louis, which was eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night by the Chicago Cubs. It fielded a lineup with only three everyday players in it because of injuries and rest days.
That lineup was no match for Anderson.
“The breaking ball was working and he didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Anderson. “Just your typical solid outing.”
Martinez belted a two-run homer in the ninth for St. Louis, his 14th of the year.
NOTES: Milwaukee 1B Eric Thames (bruised foot) was back in the lineup Friday night after missing Thursday’s 4-3 win over Cincinnati. ... St. Louis shut down INF Matt Carpenter (shoulder), C Yadier Molina (concussion protocol), LHP Tyler Lyons (knee) and RHP Adam Wainwright (elbow) for the season. ... The Cardinals also gave three other regulars — CF Dexter Fowler, 3B Jedd Gyorko and 2B Kolten Wong (back) — the night off. ... The Brewers have decided to pitch Opening Day starter Junior Guerra (1-4, 4.90 ERA) on Saturday opposite Luke Weaver (7-2, 3.23). Guerra has made his last seven appearances out of the bullpen.