The St. Louis Cardinals already quieted the bats of the Milwaukee Brewers in one series this season. With a starting rotation that continues to roll along with strong performances, they'll try to do it again.
Jake Westbrook will take the ball Thursday night for the opener of a four-game set at Miller Park.
St. Louis took two of three from the Brewers in St. Louis from April 12-14, shutting them out twice in the process. Cardinals starters posted a 1.29 ERA over those three games and come in looking more than capable of producing similar results. Their starters' ERA is at 1.32 over the last nine.
Lance Lynn turned in the latest gem, throwing seven innings of one-run ball in St. Louis' 4-2 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.
"The starting pitching has been a constant for us and he's helped lead the way," manager Mike Matheny said. "You can't ask the starters to do more than they've done."
Westbrook (1-1, 0.98 ERA) hasn't been charged with an earned run in three of his four starts, including his six shutout innings against Pittsburgh on Saturday as he scattered six hits without a walk. His bid for a second victory was squandered by St. Louis' relievers, which gave up five runs in three innings.
"I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well. I had a good sinker," said Westbrook, who is 2-4 with a 3.06 ERA in eight career starts versus Milwaukee. "I was able to get some early outs and I stayed out of trouble for the most part."
While the starters for the Cardinals (16-11) have sparkled, the Brewers (14-12) were again let down by their bullpen Wednesday.
John Axford was the primary culprit in a late collapse as he was charged with four runs in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Pirates. It was the Brewers' fifth blown save and the second for Axford, snapping Milwaukee's eight-game home winning streak and foiling its bid for a sweep of Pittsburgh.
Manager Ron Roenicke removed Axford (0-3, 10.32 ERA) as the team's closer after three rough appearances to start the year, but he had posted a 1.23 ERA over eight appearances prior to Wednesday's debacle. Roenicke even said last week he was considering the possibility of reinstating Axford - who was booed off the mound Wednesday - as Milwaukee's closer.
"I don't think it's necessarily fair," Roenicke said of the crowd's treatment of Axford. "This guy's been pitching really well for us. I still obviously like him a lot. I think every time I put him out there, I think he's going to do a good job."
The Brewers counter Westbrook with Wily Peralta (2-1, 5.02 ERA), who will make his first career start against St. Louis. Peralta has won two in a row, allowing five runs over 12 2-3 innings after posting a 6.19 ERA through his first three starts.
Carlos Gomez enters on an eight-game hitting streak during which he's 15 for 29 (.517) with three homers and five RBIs, though he's 1 for 5 against Westbrook.
Ryan Braun is 10 for 19 lifetime off of Westbrook but is hitting just .220 with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 games versus the Cardinals.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|April 22, 2013||Matt Adams||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|March 24, 2013||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 22, 2013||Jason Motte||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 07, 2013||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|April 28, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right index finger|
|April 12, 2013||Alex Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 07, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left quad|
|April 07, 2013||Chris Narveson||15-Day DL||Sprained middle finger|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|April 05, 2013||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Neck spasms|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jake Westbrook reached a coveted milestone, finally.
Westbrook allowed one run over six innings for his 100th career win and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Milwaukee Brewers , 6-5 on Thursday night.
"It's always been a goal of mine to get to 100, and it's good to get it done," he said.
Westbrook (2-1), came in with a 0.98 ERA, best in the majors - it increased to 1.10. In his 12th season, he walked three and struck out four. The Brewers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position against him.
The Cardinals were 1-3 in his previous outings this season and he had two no decisions coming into the start against the Brewers.
His teammates were happy for him and their celebration may explain the 21-minute delay for the media to enter the clubhouse.
"I got a little bit of a beer shower," he said. "It means a lot to me. A 100 wins for me is a sign of longevity, kind of grinding it out, year after year."
His record is 100-95, including 30-25 with the Cardinals.
"It's definitely not 300, but it was a goal of mine," Westbrook said. "It's an accomplishment I'll always have with me."
Westbrook allowed Norichika Aoki 's double to open the game and then nothing more until one out in the fourth when the Brewers pushed across a run on three consecutive singles. He struck out Alex Gonzalez and then fanned Wily Peralta (2-2), his third strikeout of the inning.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke knows what makes Westbrook a winner.
"His sinker is why he's so good," Roenicke said. "He locates it well. He keeps it down in the zone well. Even though you know it's going to sink, you still think you're on it and you end up hitting a groundball."
Westbrook had to sweat out the final three innings before relaxing.
He left with a 6-1 lead for the relievers to protect, but the Brewers scored twice in the seventh, once in the eighth and once in the ninth.
Edward Mujica pitched the ninth for his seventh save, but allowed Alex Gonzalez 's two-out RBI single.
Trailing 6-1, pinch-hitter Logan Schafer greeted Joe Kelly with a single to start the seventh. Schafer advanced on Aoki's ground rule double and scored on Jean Segura 's sacrifice fly. After Ryan Braun struck out, Kelly hit Yuniesky Bentancourt. Mitchell Boggs came on, but walked the first two batters he faced to force in a run. Trevor Rosenthal was next and he struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
In the eighth, pinch-hitter Blake Lalli singled and advanced on second baseman Daniel Descalso 's fielding error. He bobbled Aoki's grounder trying to start a double play. Segura struck out before Braun's single drove in Lalli. The Cardinals escaped when Rosenthal struck out Bentancourt.
"It's good to get a team win," Westbrook said.
St. Louis came in leading the majors with the best batting average (.330) with runners in scoring position and the top average (.337) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
They lived up to their reputation with six two-out runs in the third as 11 batters faced Peralta.
Allen Craig started the scoring with a bases-loaded, two-run single. Yadier Molina followed and drove in a run. David Freese , showing signs of breaking out of a season-long slump, knocked in a run with his second hit in the game. Then John Jay's single reloaded the bases for Pete Kozma whose single brought in the final two runs.
Westbrook worked out of a potential jam in the sixth.
Rickie Weeks singled and then Westbrook issued a one-out walk to Maldonado. Gonzalez hit a liner right at shortstop Kozma who quickly stepped on second to get Weeks for an unassisted double play.
The Cardinals chased Peralta in the fifth when they loaded the bases on two walks and a single with one out. Alfredo Figaro came on and got Westbrook to hit into a double play.
Peralta, facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career, went 4 1-3 innings, walked two and struck out three.
NOTES: The Brewers reinstated INF Jeff Bianchi (left hip) from the 15-day disabled list. OF Khris Davis was optioned Wednesday to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Bianchi. ... After 3B Aramis Ramirez ran the bases before the game, speculation has it that he is ready to return. He strained his left knee in the fourth game of the season and missed 22 games. ... Cardinals slumping 3B David Freese was back in the lineup after manager Mike Matheny gave him the previous two games off. Freese' single (9-50) in the first raised his batting average to .180. ... The Cardinals had three broken-bat singles and two bloop hits in the third. ... Peralta swung so hard in the fourth that the bat flew out of hands and landed well beyond third base.