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Brewers take first loss despite trio of homers

April 2, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- They gave it a good run, but, no, the Brewers will not be the first team in Major League history to go 162-0. Of course, it was the Cardinals who got in the way.The Brewers' old nemeses spoiled Monday's Miller Park opener with an 8-4 win over Milwaukee,

MILWAUKEE -- They gave it a good run, but, no, the Brewers will not be the first team in Major League history to go 162-0. Of course, it was the Cardinals who got in the way.
The Brewers' old nemeses spoiled Monday's Miller Park opener with an 8-4 win over Milwaukee, pushing ahead on a crushing, two-run home run from Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas off Zach Davies. St. Louis pulled away with four runs in the sixth to send the Brewers to their first loss following a 3-0 start to the regular season.
"I'd like to win one of these [home openers]," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who is winless in three tries since taking over as manager. "We haven't done that in a couple of years.
"But, business goes on tomorrow. You feel like the rest of the season kind of starts for us tomorrow."

With a standing-room only crowd of 45,393 looking on and the stadium facades sporting red, white and blue bunting, Manny Pina, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Thames all homered for the Brewers off Mikolas, a 29-year-old right-hander making his first appearance in the Major League since 2014 following three seasons in Japan.
Cain 'leans back' on his first Crew homer since '10

The Cardinals, who had won five straight season series against the Brewers before Milwaukee won 11 of 19 matchups a season ago, had answers. Mikolas delivered a tiebreaking, two-run home run off Davies in the fifth inning, and St. Louis added four more in a sixth inning punctuated by Paul DeJong's three-run homer off Brandon Woodruff.
Davies was charged with seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, with most of that damage coming in the sixth as he attempted to navigate the Cardinals' lineup for the third time.

"It's probably one of the worst games to go out there and not have your stuff and kind of give it up," said Davies, the Brewers' leader last year in victories, starts and innings. "It's a fun day, and when eight runs go up on the board by the other team, it puts a damper on the day."

The fans did have their moments, courtesy of a Brewers offense that hit one home run in three games at San Diego, but connected for a trio in the team's first game at hitter-friendly Miller Park. Pina made it 1-0 with an opposite-field homer in the second inning, and Cain stayed red hot for the Brewers by hitting his first homer in the third. Thames, who had no hits to show for a series of quality at-bats in his first start of the season on Saturday in San Diego, logged his first hit with a two-run home run in the sixth.
Mikolas, however, earned his first Major League victory since Aug. 25, 2014, with the Rangers. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Pitchers who rake: Davies was mostly in control for the first 4 2/3 innings, but he plunked Jedd Gyorko, the Cardinals' eight-hole hitter, with two outs in the fifth inning before Mikolas hammered a fastball 407 feet to left field for his first Major League hit. Davies lamented "a bad pitch, and he crushed it." Counsell called it the game's most pivotal moment.
"We're sitting there with two outs, nobody on and eight [spot], pitcher coming up, and they end up with two runs. To me, that's the inning that hurt us," Counsell said. "I know they ended up putting up the big number in the sixth, but you've got two outs in an inning and the pitcher is one of those next hitters, you're thinking zero there. … A home run is kind of the last thing you're expecting."

No relief: The Brewers assigned Woodruff to the Opening Day bullpen because they don't need a fifth starter until Friday against the Cubs. In his first relief outing on Saturday, Woodruff was struck by a pair of line drives. Monday brought its own form of pain. With two outs, two runners aboard and a Cardinals run already across against Davies in the sixth, Woodruff misplaced his second pitch to DeJong, a slider, and saw it leave the field for a three-run home run and an 8-2 St. Louis lead.
"Just a bad pitch," said Woodruff. "The whole bullpen thing is unfamiliar to me. I think now I'll transition back into the starter role, and it will be more familiar and I'll get myself prepared. It's tough, but I'm not going to make any excuses. I just made a bad pitch."

Last chance: After Thames' first 2018 home run, a two-run shot, cut the Cardinals' lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mikolas still had a chance to finish the frame. But he gave the Brewers extra life after dropping a feed from first baseman Jose Martinez while covering first base for a two-out error, prompting a call to reliever Bud Norris with Brewers runners at the corners. Norris struck out shortstop Orlando Arcia to end Milwaukee's final threat in the ballgame.

Mikolas became the first Cardinals pitcher not named Adam Wainwright -- who homered twice in each of the last two seasons -- to homer in a game since Shelby Miller took the D-backs deep on June 6, 2013. He's the first Cardinals pitcher to record his first big league hit via the long ball since Mark Worrell did it in the second game of a doubleheader at Washington on June 5, 2008.
Before rallying for four runs in the sixth, the Cardinals lost their first challenge of 2018 when Tommy Pham led off the inning with a single and became the second would-be base stealer cut down by Pina. Cards manager Mike Matheny challenged, but the call stood.

Brewers:Chase Anderson's nose was still sore on the eve of his second start of the season, but it could have been much worse. On the way to pitching six scoreless innings of an Opening Day no-decision in San Diego, Anderson was banged up on an awkward slide home. Thankfully, his left hand got between his face and the plate. He'll try to stay more upright when he works against the Cardinals beginning at 6:40 p.m. CT on Tuesday.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.