MILWAUKEE -- "There's ups and downs to the ride," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday afternoon of his high-flying Brewers, and, boy, he wasn't kidding.
Counsell's club plummeted back to earth in a 6-1 loss to the Cardinals, with St. Louis hitting as many home runs -- three -- as Milwaukee's batters tallied hits. The Brewers came within seven outs of adding to their Major League-leading nine shutout losses on a night their starting pitcher, Zach Davies, fell into a four-run deficit in the second inning.
When they hit, the Brewers really hit. When they don't, they really don't.
"It seems like that, but I think we hit tonight," Hernan Perez said. "I think some of the guys hit the ball hard, but right to somebody. I think we had a good game today. [Michael Wacha] was good today."
The Brewers did hit plenty of baseballs hard against Cardinals starter Wacha, with no hits to show for it until Perez blooped a single to center field in the fifth inning, and no runs until Jonathan Villar's pinch-hit RBI double off Sam Tuivailala with two outs in the seventh.
The result was a departure for a club that had won 14 of its past 18 games while leading MLB in scoring in that stretch. The Brewers had scored at least eight runs in each of the three preceding games, including a 17-run rout of the Mets on Saturday in which nine Brewers players had at least one hit and at least one RBI. They scored eight more runs Sunday to finish a series win over the Mets, then greeted the Cardinals with eight more runs on Monday afternoon.
Wacha would have none of that on Tuesday while holding the Brewers to one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings, despite four walks and a series of loud outs. Until Francisco Pena smashed a 108.2 mph (according to Statcast™) home run off Dan Jennings in the eighth, three of the four outcomes with the highest exit velocities belonged to Brewers hitters against Wacha -- lineouts for Ryan Braun in the second inning, Jesus Aguilar in the fourth and Travis Shaw in the fifth.
"The balls we did hit hard to the outfield, they caught," Counsell said. "That kind of led to a tough offensive day."
It was just as tough a day for Davies, whose ERA inflated to 5.23 after he allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five innings, with three walks (one intentional) and four strikeouts. Four of those runs scored in the second inning, when Harrison Bader led off with a home run and the Cardinals added on with a series of soft hits and Matt Carpenter's bases-loaded walk.
In his first two starts since spending three-plus weeks on the disabled list with a right rotator cuff injury, Davies has yielded nine earned runs on 14 hits in nine innings. He spoke of some soreness from falling on that shoulder while deflecting a comebacker last week against the Mets.
"Everything hasn't felt great the last couple games starting back," he said, "but you're at the top level, you've got to find it some time."
Said Counsell of the state of Davies' shoulder: "We'll look at it. I don't think that's the reason that's causing any of this. We'll continue to certainly be careful with that and look at it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seeing-eye single: The most damaging of the Cardinals' soft hits in the second inning belonged to Jedd Gyorko, who followed Carpenter's run-scoring walk with a ground ball that rolled right between Perez and Brewers shortstop Tyler Saladino for two runs and a 4-0 lead. Was it bad luck, or a Milwaukee mistake?
"Maybe they could have kept it in the infield, but I don't think there was an out to be had on the play," Counsell said. "It was a slowly hit ball up the middle. Perez was just on the other side of the bag. When you're shifting, that ball is kind of the problem ball that can cause the infielders to pause. But there was no out on that play, at all."
Cain called out in seventh: The Brewers put a rally together in the seventh, when Villar greeted Tuivailala with a run-scoring double that left runners at second and third and two outs in a 5-1 game. Lorenzo Cain batted next, and had words for plate umpire Cory Blaser after being called out on a 2-2 fastball.
"We put together some good at-bats and had the top of the order up," Counsell said. "I thought the ball was a little bit inside to LoCain. That was about it."
SALADINO EXITS, HEADED TO DL
Saladino left the game in the third inning with a sprained left ankle after rolling it on an out at second base. X-rays were negative, but Counsell indicated after the game that the Brewers would make a roster move as early as Wednesday, with recently demoted Orlando Arcia one of the candidates to take that spot.
Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. CT contest between the Cardinals and Brewers will be telecast exclusively on Facebook, marking the second time the teams have matched up on the platform this season. Former All-Star Brewers closer Dan Plesac will be part of the broadcast team calling the game. Junior Guerra (3-3, 2.98 ERA) will start for the Brewers after allowing two earned runs in his last start vs. the Mets. The Cardinals will send Alex Reyes to the mound for the first time since 2016 after recovering from Tommy John surgery.