Anderson, Brewers stave off Cardinals
MILWAUKEE — Once again, the Brewers bent but did not break, and as a result, they are still alive in their unlikely hunt for the National League Central crown thanks to a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.
Chase Anderson set the tone, recovering from a two-run homer in the opening inning to strike out six over six innings. Domingo Santana and Jonathan Villar provided the power, socking home runs in the sixth inning.
However, all of it might have been for naught had Keon Broxton not saved the day with a defensive gem, reaching over the wall to pull back what would have been a go-ahead home run by Randal Grichuk with two outs in the ninth inning.
“I’m glad he was in there, for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Making his third start since a seven-week stint on the disabled list for a strained oblique, Anderson (8-3) held St. Louis to two hits and a pair of walks. He walked leadoff batter Matt Carpenter and paid the price when Tommy Pham followed with a two-run homer to put the Cardinals up early. But he settled in from there and retired his next 14 batters.
“After (second baseman) Villar came to talk to me, I felt good the rest of the way,” said Anderson, who revealed he suffered a cut fingernail in the first but felt fine after it was glued up between innings. “It was good to get through six innings.”
The Brewers’ offense picked him up in the second, cashing in on a crucial error by Cadinals starter Carlos Martinez.
Martinez struck out Neil Walker to open the inning, but back-to-back singles by Santana and Stephen Vogt put runners at the corners for Villar. Villar grounded back to Martinez for what should have been an easy, inning-ending double play. But his throw sailed over the head of second baseman Kolten Wong and into center, allowing Santana to score.
Hernan Perez tied the game with an RBI single off the glove of shortstop Paul DeJong, and Eric Sogard followed with another run-scoring single, making it a 3-2 game before Martinez struck out Eric Thames to get out of the inning.
“We were looking at a zero but three runs changes the tide of the game in a hurry,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “I thought he did a nice job of gathering himself, pulling himself together and making big pitches after that.”
He did, keeping Milwaukee off the board and pitching out of a two-on, nobody out jam in the fourth.
Grichuk tied the game up with a solo home run in the fifth, but Martinez gave up a solo shot to Santana to open the sixth, putting Milwaukee back in front.
Another error, this time on Carpenter, allowed Vogt to reach base, and Villar made Martinez pay, crushing a 2-1 fastball to left for a 6-3 Milwaukee lead. Martinez retired his next two batters but gave way to the bullpen after Sogard reached on an infield hit and the Cardinals escaped without further damage.
Pham struck again in the eighth, tagging Anthony Swarzek for his second two-run shot of the day to cut the deficit to one. Swarzek retired the next two batters in order then handed off to closer Corey Knebel for the ninth.
St. Louis made one last stand as Yadier Molina led off with a single. Knebel struck out his next two batters to bring up Grichuk, who drilled a 1-2 fastball down the middle to straight-away center.
“Off the bat, I thought that ball was far enough but he made a great play out there,” Matheny said.
Broxton appeared to lose track of the ball for a moment but chased it to the wall, timed his leap perfectly and reached over the fence to make the catch, locking down Knebel’s 30th save of the year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best one I’ve ever made, but it’s definitely one of the most important ones I’ve made,” Broxton said. “It’s huge. It’s everything. It’s what every outfielder dreams of: making a catch like that in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win. It was a lot of fun, for sure.”
NOTES: St. Louis cut a deal before the game, shipping RHP Mike Leake to Seattle in exchange for minor league SS Rayder Ascanio, $750,000 of international cap space and other cash considerations. ... C Yadier Molina was back in the St. Louis lineup Wednesday. He was scratched prior to the game Tuesday because of soreness in his lower right abdomen. ... Milwaukee was without C Manny Pina (sore hip) and 3B Travis Shaw (bruised foot) Wednesday.