MILWAUKEE -- If the Cardinals want to snap their three-year postseason drought, they will likely need to find a way to get past the reigning National League Central Champion Brewers.
And to do that, the Cardinals will need to figure out a way to get Christian Yelich out.
The Cardinals have not had much luck in either department so far this season, dropping four of five meetings with their divisional rivals, including Monday's 10-7 loss at Miller Park behind three home runs from Yelich.
"We know he's a good player, but I've never seen anything like that in my life," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "It's unbelievable. It's almost like he's psychic."
It certainly seems that way when it comes to the Cardinals. He's 15-for-32 against St. Louis pitching this season with seven home runs and 15 RBIs. Cardinals pitchers have allowed a homer to Yelich in six straight games dating to last season, making him the first player since 1908 to homer in six consecutive games against the Cardinals. Yelich has 13 home runs against St. Louis since joining the Brewers in a January 2018 trade.
"They’re a great pitching staff, a great team," Yelich said. "I feel like they always pitch you tough in my career. Baseball is just a weird game. It’s one of those weird stretches and sometimes you can’t explain things.”
Also hard to explain is right-hander Dakota Hudson's struggles with Yelich and the Brewers this season. Yelich hit one of the three home runs allowed by Hudson in his first start of the season, then hit the first of his three Monday homers off Hudson during a six-run second inning.
"We got a scouting report on him and he's hitting mistakes," Hudson said. "That really simplifies it."
Hudson made several mistakes Monday, including a solo home run by Mike Moustakas to lead off the second, but managed to work into the fourth inning despite allowing eight hits and three walks while striking out three.
"I was proud of him," Shildt said. "He stayed in the game mentally and he bared down. It's a tough spot because you don't run the guy back out there, but you also need innings, especially in the first game of a series. I appreciate what he was able to do to get through the third and into the fourth."
The Cardinals moved Hudson into the rotation after going 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 27 1/3 innings of relief as a rookie last season. Two of his three starts have come against the Brewers, who have accounted for all nine of his earned runs. The third came against the Dodgers, who couldn't score against Hudson despite collecting six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings of work.
"He's got the pitches," Shildt said. "His stuff is coming out, but like anything in this game, it's about consistency. He needs to make consistent pitches."
Hudson's struggles Monday squandered a strong start by the Cardinals' offense. Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong got things started with back-to-back home runs off Brewers starter Freddy Peralta in the first inning and Matt Carpenter came within inches of making it 4-0 in the second, but came up empty when Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain reached over the wall to bring back his second would-be Cardinals home run of the season.
After Milwaukee's breakout inning, the Cardinals chipped away at the deficit and eventually tied the game at 6-6 on Marcell Ozuna's RBI single in the sixth.
Any chance of retaking the momentum shifted in the bottom of the inning when Yelich hit his second homer of the game to make it 9-6. He then put Milwaukee ahead 10-6 with a solo shot off John Brebbia in the eighth.
Ozuna led off the ninth with a first-pitch homer off Josh Hader, who struck out the next three St. Louis batters in order to end it.
"We talk about being resilient ahead or resilient behind, and our club just gets after it," Shildt said. "Goldy and Paulie get good swings and go back-to-back right in the first inning then go back out, get down, come back and tie it up at 6 apiece with some really good at-bats."