An 8-6 loss to the Cardinals behind Tom Gorzelanny's rough outing on Wednesday marked a spirited, but ultimately unhappy, end to a Brewers homestand. Aramis Ramirez three-run home run highlighted the Brewers' comeback bid before they fell to 6-23 on getaway days and 8-33 in series finales.
Milwaukee is also 13-29 in day games, one reason the team is 55-72 overall and jockeying with the Cubs for last place in the National League Central.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has taken note of the struggles under the sun, which predate his three-year tenure.
"It's been something we haven't been good at … for about five years," he said. "I think one out of the last five [years] we played well in day games."
It has nothing to do with skipping batting practice before afternoon affairs, he argued. Roenicke has instituted optional hitting before day games for the past month or more, including Wednesday, "and it doesn't seem to make a difference, as it shouldn't. We hit a lot. When we take off a day, it shouldn't be an issue."
Wednesday's loss belonged to Gorzelanny, who surrendered seven earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings. It also belonged to a Brewers offense that cut a 7-0 deficit in the second inning to 7-5 by the fifth, but left 10 men on base over the final five innings on the way to stranding a season-high 14.
"The guys fought their tails off and didn't give up," said Gorzelanny, who struck out five. "The bullpen did a fantastic job today and kept us in there. It was a tough one to lose."
Gorzelanny trailed, 6-0, before recording the second out of a six-run second inning that included opposing starter Jake Westbrook's two-run double, a booming, two-run home run off the scoreboard in center from Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig's solo shot.
The seven runs were the most Gorzelanny has allowed since a Sept. 24, 2010, start for the Cubs, also against the Cardinals, and the 10 hits were Gorzelanny's most given up since June 19, 2011, for the Nationals against the Orioles. After posting a 2.61 ERA in his first six Brewers starts, Gorzelanny has surrendered 12 earned runs and 16 hits in 8 1/3 innings his last two outings.
"He pitched so well before that, I don't know," Roenicke said. "He didn't command the ball early, and then they also hit some pretty good pitches. We know they're a good hitting club, and when you don't hit your spots, they're going to put a good swing on it. Hopefully, his next one, he gets it going again. We need to get him going again."
Asked what he has struggled with in those games, Gorzelanny said, "Just making good pitches. Making mistakes."
Gorzelanny said his elbow was fine. His seven-inning start against the Mariners on Aug. 10 had been pushed back several days after he absorbed a Jayson Werth line drive off his pitching elbow in his previous outing.
Roenicke committed only to Gorzelanny's next start, which is scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh. After his initial Brewers starts were so promising, the club decided to leave Gorzelanny in the rotation to evaluate whether he could fit as a starter in 2014.
That is Gorzelanny's preferred role.
"Every start is important," he said. "No matter what part of the year it is. Every start is important. Pitching is important to me, no matter what. I like being a starter. It's something I've done most of my career. I want to do the best that I can in any position."
The Brewers hit their way back into the game against Westbrook, who was knocked out before he could finish the five innings necessary to qualify for a victory. Ramirez hit a three-run home run in a third inning that began with an error charged to Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, and the Brewers added two more runs on successive RBI singles by Juan Francisco and Sean Halton in the fifth.
After that, the Milwaukee suffered a series of missed opportunities.
Pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi came off the Brewers' depleted bench to strike out against Cards reliever Kevin Siegrist (2-1) with the bases loaded to end the fifth. Jonathan Lucroy and Ramirez went down against Seth Maness to strand a runner at second base in the sixth. Another pinch-hitter, Norichika Aoki struck out against Trevor Rosenthal with a pair of runners on base to end the seventh. And Francisco waved at three pitches from Cardinals closer Edward Mujica with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
Milwaukee went 3-for-14 with men in scoring position.
The Cardinals' Matt Holliday and the Brewers' Logan Schafer traded solo home runs in the ninth, when the Brewers again brought the tying run to the plate. Mujica induced a Jean Segura groundout to end the game.
"That was a big win," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. "Those are ones that you … you've got to find a way to win with that kind of offensive production up early, and that team kept coming. Fortunately we kept doing what we needed to do and got enough room. That was a tough game."
For the Brewers, it was even tougher.
"I'm happy to see that we're battling to get people on base, but we're not getting the big hit, or at least we didn't today," Roenicke said. "It's not like bases loaded, no outs, and we don't come through. It's a little different. I'm happy we were still battling."