His beleaguered bullpen running on fumes, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was forced to make some tough decisions down the stretch of a 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday.
Matheny made liberal use of the double-switch, going so far as to pull arguably his best hitter, Matt Holliday, with the game tied in the ninth inning.
"We really didn't have much of a choice at that point," Matheny said. "Had two pitchers I couldn't use today. It was trying to make every pitch count with our staff and had a couple guys go shorter than what they could because we got into a bind. We were holding our breath there for a while."
Fortunately, the move didn't backfire, as Holliday's bat was no longer needed once Jon Jay drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the ninth, capping off a 2-for-3 day at the plate that also included one of the Cardinals' three home runs.
"I'm just happy to help the team win today," said Jay, who came into the game hitting 4-for-7 in the series. "When we go out there and battle, we've got a pretty good offense."
Jay's production at the plate led a 10-hit day for St. Louis, which won its third straight and fifth in six games against Milwaukee this season. Over the first three games of the series, the Cardinals have scored 19 runs on 37 hits against Brewers pitching.
"We saw a little bit of their relentless approach today," Matheny said. "The guys coming off the bench were prepared. They just kept fighting and kept going."
Nobody appreciated the lineup's efforts more than starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who allowed a season-high five runs on 11 hits. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter, but allowed two home runs and hit two batters in 5 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
"They've got a great lineup over there," said Wainwright, who at one point retired 10 of 11 batters. "I wasn't erratically out of the zone but I left some balls out over the plate; gave up three 0-2 hits today so I've got to do better next time."
The Brewers chased Wainwright in the sixth. Trailing 4-2, Carlos Gomez cut the deficit to a run with a one-out home run to left on a 0-2 curveball from the right-hander. Martin Maldonado followed with a base hit and moved to third on Alex Gonzalez's double.
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke sent up Jonathan Lucroy to hit for starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and he came through with a two-run single up the middle, giving the Brewers a 5-4 lead.
Wainwright hit Aoki with a 1-1 cutter, putting runners at first and second. Matheny summoned Joe Kelly from the bullpen and he ended the inning when Jean Segura grounded into a double play at second.
Daniel Descalso hit a two-run homer off Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh to put St. Louis ahead again before Aoki tied it for Milwaukee in the eighth, scoring pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi.
Brewers closer Jim Henderson opened the ninth with a leadoff single by Shane Robinson -- who had taken over for Freese in an earlier double-switch. Robinson advanced to second on an error by Gomez and stole third, setting the stage for Jay's big hit.
"They're outplaying us," said Roenicke, whose team has lost three in a row and five of the last six against St. Louis. "There's no doubt. Every personnel on their team when they put them in there, they do a good job."
Five Cardinals relievers combined to hold Milwaukee to a run on three hits over the final 3 2/3 innings. Seth Maness, who made his major-league debut Friday, earned his first career victory.
Gallardo saw his four-game winning streak snapped but, after getting a no-decision, remains 1-10 against St. Louis in 16 career starts.
NOTES: Yuniesky Betancourt's first-inning single was the 1,000th hit of his career. Betancourt was back in the cleanup spot Saturday, replacing Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez returned from the disabled list Friday, but was given a day off for precautionary reasons. ... Cardinals 3B Freese has had at least two hits in his last three games. ... Gomez singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Gomez began the day hitting .367, tops in the National League. ... Cardinals RHP Trevor Rosenthal leads MLB relievers with 23 strikeouts this season. ... Brewers pitchers are hitting .186 this season (11-for-59) but are hitting .458 when making contact, including two home runs by Gallardo.
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