St. Louis — It was, quite simply, a weekend to forget for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Incessant rain, inconsistent pitching and not enough offense all combined to make their second trip to Busch Stadium this season one of their most frustrating in recent memory.
Three delays totaling 2 hours 29 minutes were only part of the misery Sunday, as starter Chase Anderson went just 41/3 innings and the bullpen struggled behind him as the Brewers were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-8.
The Brewers grabbed the lead briefly in the fourth before the Cardinals exploded for seven runs. Stephen Piscotty provided the big blast, hitting a grand slam in the sixth off Blaine Boyer.
Milwaukee made things interesting by scoring four times in the top of the ninth off two Cardinals relievers, but Martin Maldonado struck out with the tying run on second, ending the game.
“We’ve continued to play all year, we’ve continued to battle all year,” manager Craig Counsell said. “It was 8-2, all the rain delays and everything — to put the tying run (on base) and have the chance to tie it up, that’s what we’ve done all year. I’m proud of the guys for doing that.
“It’s an easy game for the guys to kind of stop with the rain and everything, but they didn’t make excuses for anything and continued to battle through it.”
Michael Blazek took over in the sixth and allowed a double and pair of walks to load the bases before giving way to Boyer. Piscotty greeted him with wholesale jerseys, a towering grand slam to left, and the Cardinals had upped their lead to 8-2.
Milwaukee scored a run in the seventh and had the bases loaded with one out when the umpires called for the tarp — the third delay of the game. After 55 minutes, Nieuwenhuis ultimately drove in a run with a groundout make it 8-4.
St. Louis got that run back in the bottom of the seventh against Jhan Mariñez. That tally proved huge, as the Brewers made their charge in the ninth. Aaron Hill drove in the first run by drawing a bases-loaded walk, Nieuwenhuis two more with a double and Hernan Perez the fourth with a groundout.
Jonathan Villar followed with a walk, but Martin Maldonado struck out against Seung Hwan Oh to leave the Brewers just short of a miraculous comeback.
“You always want to continue to compete, continue to battle,” said Ryan Braun, who singled four times on the day. “Obviously the goal is to win the game. We still ended up coming up short. It would have been an amazing win if we had come all the way back.
“But obviously a good sign that we continued to fight, continued to battle to the end.”
Rain forced a delay to the start of the game for the second straight day. When the game started, the Cardinals — who entered the series in the midst of a seven-game home losing streak, their longest since 1983 — grabbed the lead just two batters into the bottom of the first when Aledmys Diaz homered to left off Anderson to make it 1-0.
Milwaukee finally broke through in the fourth when Hill singled with one out and Nieuwenhuis and Ramon Flores followed with consecutive doubles. Nieuwenhuis’ two-bagger was the Brewers’ first extra-base hit since Chris Carter’s second-inning homer on Friday, and Flores’ double snapped an 0-for-19 skid with runners in scoring position.
The lead — the team’s first since Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers — didn’t last long. Anderson walked Jhonny Peralta and Tommy Pham in the bottom half of the inning and after Anderson made a nice play to get Peralta at third on a Wacha bunt, Matt Carpenter singled to center to drive in Pham and tie it at 2-2.
Anderson’s day ended after he walked Piscotty with one out in the fifth and made way for rookie Jacob Barnes. Brandon Moss greeted him with a double to right that scored Piscotty, and when Flores’ relay throw was too high for Scooter Gennett, Moss advanced to third.
That allowed him to tag and score on Peralta’s sacrifice fly, giving St. Louis a 4-2 lead.
Anderson (4-9) has now gone five, 21/3, four and 41/3 innings in his last four starts. He allowed four hits, three runs (earned) and walked a season-high five over 81 pitches.
“He only gave up two runs but it was five walks, a bunch of pretty well-hit balls,” Counsell said. “He wasn’t on completely.”