MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Martinez made sure an early lead didn't slip away from the Cardinals two nights in a row.
Martinez, who struggled in his first outing, came within one misplayed double-play grounder of his third career shutout. The right-hander allowed four hits over 8 1/3 brilliant innings, striking out 10 and walking two to lift St. Louis past the Brewers, 6-0, for a series victory on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
"I thought he was good really from the beginning today. He got himself into a little bit of trouble, but not much," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "He was still efficient even though he had guys on base. It was obviously the best one we've seen. And that's the stuff we expect to see. It was fun to watch him today."
The Cardinals, who saw a 4-0 lead slip away in an eventual 5-4 loss on Tuesday, again built a four-run lead after four innings -- when Yadier Molina hit his third homer of the season -- but they maintained control, helped by three Milwaukee errors that led to three unearned runs.
Martinez, who allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits with six walks in 4 1/3 innings in a 9-4 season-opening loss to the Mets, hit Domingo Santana with a pitch to open the second, followed by Jonathan Villar's single. He then retired 16 straight before a one-out single in the seventh by Santana.
<p."i ...="" after="" and="" better="" control="" couple="" felt="" first="" focused="" good="" i="" in="" inning="" innings="" made="" me="" pitches="" pretty="" really="" sixth="" the="" then="" tried="" was="">In the ninth, Santana hit a potential game-ending double-play grounder to third, but Yairo Munoz -- who pinch-hit for starting third baseman Matt Carpenter in the ninth -- misplayed the bouncer for an error. </p."i>
That's when Matheny came to get Martinez, who had thrown 114 pitches.
"It was arguable whether I was going to send him back out," Matheny said. "At 100 [pitches], I liked the idea of him taking a shot at it. He had the ground ball that we needed to make it happen. It's a big deal to our pitchers."
With the Brewers threatening to end the shutout bid, Sam Tuivailala relieved and Villar looped a single to center to load the bases. Matheny then called for Bud Norris, who fielded a tapper by Manny Pina and threw home to Molina for the out before the catcher fired to first to complete the game-ending double play.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Situational hitting: St. Louis pushed across an unearned run in the first on William Fowler's leadoff double, an errant pickoff attempt and Tommy Pham's RBI groundout. The top of the order produced two more runs in the third, when Fowler walked, Pham doubled and Carpenter followed with an RBI groundout. Marcell Ozuna then singled home Pham.
"The situational hitting today, the guys did a nice job," Matheny said. "When they got guys on third base, getting them in, moving guys over, good baserunning. Saw a lot of little things done right today."
Capitalizing on errors: The Brewers overcame a 4-0 deficit just 24 hours earlier, so the Cardinals' 4-0 lead did not feel safe Wednesday until they pulled away with help from a pair of errors in the sixth. Ozuna, who has gone 7-for-18 over the past four games including two more hits Wednesday, led off with a single and took second on left fielder Christian Yelich's first error of the season. Two batters later, Ozuna scored on Molina's sacrifice fly. The Cardinals added another run on a two-out error by Villar, his second of the game, to make it a 6-0 advantage.
"He's doing everything. Looks great behind the plate. Just doing all the little things behind the scenes that most people don't see that bring so much value to our club and make people better. He's been very consistent with how he's going about his business." -- Matheny on Molina, who did not hit his third home run last season until his 31st game
The Cardinals, who evened their record at 3-3 after two road series, now head to St. Louis for their much-anticipated home opener and will be bolstered by the return of ace right-hander Adam Wainwright, who comes off the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain) to start against Arizona on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. CT. "It means a lot to me," Wainwright said before Wednesday's game. "I had already in my mind gotten myself ready to pitch either tomorrow or whenever, I was just going to be ready."
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