ST. LOUIS -- Life without closer Corey Knebel is getting rather interesting for the Milwaukee Brewers. Or gut-wrenching, depending on one's perspective.
On Monday, the Brewers absorbed their second blown save since placing Knebel (strained right hamstring) on the disabled list on April 6.
But unlike Saturday's loss, in which the Cubs put up a four-spot while capitalizing on Milwaukee errors, the Brewers were able to limit the damage and regroup to scratch out a 5-4 win in 10 innings to start a three-game series against the Cardinals.
The latest blown save had more to do with poor luck rather than shaky defense.
Matt Albers was victimized by a Paul DeJong infield hit and a perfect Kolton Wong bunt for a single to load the bases with nobody out. Albers got pinch hitter Greg Garcia to fly to shallow center, but William Fowler followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4.
"One broken bat and a perfectly-placed bunt, it was bases loaded and no outs," Albers said. "That was in my mind, if I give up one right here it would at least give us a chance to come back."
Aided by four Greg Holland (0-1) walks, including one to Orlando Arcia with the bases loaded, the Brewers did come back in the 10th inning.
Albers (2-0) pitched a perfect bottom half to earn the decision.
"He gives up a single and Wong made a great bunt obviously," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Bases loaded and nobody out to give up one run, he's making a lot of quality pitches -- he did a nice job.
"Then we had a strange inning in the next inning, obviously, with a bunch of walks to score a run. To leave it at one run, bases loaded nobody out, that's kind of what does it right there."
Domingo Santana's second-inning single off the glove of a diving DeJong scored Travis Shaw and snapped the Brewers' 11-inning scoreless streak. Arcia's two-out double scored Santana, giving Milwaukee an early 2-0 lead.
Manny Pina's two-run single in the fourth regained a 4-3 lead for the Brewers. Eric Sogard had a pair of doubles and singled and scored and Shaw had a double and a single and scored twice.
Control issues prevented Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin from getting through the fifth. Chacin walked a season-high three batters in 4 2/3 innings, and just 43 of his 83 pitches were strikes.
The Cardinals capitalized on Chacin's wildness in the third, sending eight batters to the plate and scoring three times as 20 of the right-hander's 34 pitches in the frame were out of the zone. Chacin walked all three of his batters in the inning, including Tommy Pham and Matt Carpenter back to back to load the bases, before Marcell Ozuna's two-run single gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
Fowler led off the fifth, reaching on an Arcia error, making it eight straight games that Milwaukee committed a fielding miscue. Jeremy Jeffress, pitching in relief of Chacin, prevented the error from hurting the Brewers by striking out Ozuna to strand Fowler at third.
Jeffress, Hader and Barnes combined to pitch 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for Milwaukee, before Albers finished it off.
"With Corey being down, a couple of us have to step up and take that role on and I feel good doing that," Albers said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Team first: Sogard went 3-for-4 to raise his average more than 150 points to .222. Even his out to left in the second was hit hard. But with two on and no outs in the 10th, he had the choice to try to either swing away or bunt. He chose the latter, dropping it perfectly down the third-base line to advance the runners, leading to the Brewers' game-winning run.
"I had to get the job done," Sogard said. "I had to get him over to third with less than two outs."
Out stretching, twice: The Brewers' outfield arms set the tone early against the Cardinals with assists in each of the first two innings. In the first inning, center fielder Lorenzo Cain threw out Fowler trying to stretch a single into a double. In the second inning, left fielder Ryan Braun threw out Ozuna trying to turn a double into a triple. Both plays came against leadoff batters in each inning, thwarting potential rallies.
"When you've got a double or a triple to lead off an inning, its almost a sure run," Counsell said. "Double to lead off the game is pressure, and it became a really easy inning after that."
"If he gets outs, it's working. We can save him until the end and not get to the ninth. As long as we're using him. I'd rather make sure we're using him and be able to use him in multiple innings and good matchups and pick the hitters a little bit. I think it's a better way for us to go." -- Counsell, on possibly using Hader in the closer's role.
Brent Suter will try to rebound after giving up five runs in an 8-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs in his last start. He is seeking his first career win against the Cardinals on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT and is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA against them in six appearances, including two starts.
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