MILWAUKEE -- Make it a six-pack of series wins for Milwaukee, thanks to a little Orlando magic.The Brewers finished a month of May in which they never lost back-to-back games by coming from behind to beat the Cardinals, 3-2, on Orlando Arcia's tiebreaking single in the seventh inning on Wednesday
MILWAUKEE -- Make it a six-pack of series wins for Milwaukee, thanks to a little Orlando magic.
The Brewers finished a month of May in which they never lost back-to-back games by coming from behind to beat the Cardinals, 3-2, on Orlando Arcia's tiebreaking single in the seventh inning on Wednesday at Miller Park. With six straight series victories, Milwaukee has planted itself atop the National League standings.
"Our team is very together," said right-hander Junior Guerra, who worked six scoreless innings and was in line to win before a rare bullpen hiccup. "We're all one. When it comes to a long season, being part of one, being connected, it's a big thing."
Christian Yelich hit a game-tying solo home run to lead off an action-packed seventh for his second RBI before Arcia delivered a go-ahead single in his first at-bat back from a short-lived demotion to the Minor Leagues. The win finished an 8-2 homestand on the heels of a 7-3 road trip.
The Brewers are off Thursday, so they finished 19-8 in May to improve to 36-21 overall, best in the NL and 4 1/2 games better than the Cubs in the NL Central.
"It's been different guys every night," said Yelich. "Really just trying to pick each other up and build off really good at-bats, some great starts, and our bullpen's been lights-out all year for us. Hopefully we can keep that rolling in June."
Before Yelich and Arcia keyed the winning rally, the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning against Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress, snapping Jeffress' franchise record-tying scoreless streak at 23 appearances. Harrison Bader led off with a home run, and third baseman Travis Shaw's error extended the inning for Tommy Pham's go-ahead sacrifice fly.
"Giving up a run is going to come," Jeffress said. "That's the game of baseball."
The Brewers struck right back. Yelich led off the bottom of the frame by hitting Cards reliever Tyler Lyons' only pitch for a tying home run that traveled a Statcast-projected 441 feet, and five batters later with two outs, Arcia punched a first-pitch single off Sam Tuivailala. Arcia had just entered his first game back from Triple-A Colorado Springs as part of a double switch earlier in the inning.
Milwaukee's bullpen owns the best ERA in the Major Leagues, and Yelich enjoyed returning the favor to the pen on an off day. "They've been so good for us, all year," Yelich said. "They're not going to be lights out all year. They've been very, very good and they're a big reason why we're winning so many games."
Guerra was fairly dominant on the mound for Milwaukee in the win, striking out seven over six shutout innings before Jeffress, Josh Hader and Corey Knebel covered the final nine outs.
"Guerra was fabulous today," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "It was a tough decision to take him out. They didn't square up a ball against him all day. For someone who didn't start the year in our rotation, he's certainly cemented a spot."
Going toe-to-toe with Guerra was Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes, who made his first start since 2016 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Reyes, St. Louis' top prospect, kept the Brewers' bats in check, to the tune of four shutout innings with three hits and two walks. He was evaluated by the medical staff during the fourth and hit for when his spot came up in the top of fifth.
"This was a good homestand," Counsell said. "We beat a couple of good pitchers in [Zack Greinke] and [Noah Syndergaard]. [Reyes] is really highly thought of for them. We did our jobs. It was a good homestand and another good series."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One-out save: Knebel earned a one-out save by striking out Jose Martinez with the tying runner 90 feet from home to finish a busy ninth inning. Hader pitched a scoreless eighth and struck out three batters, but he found himself in a jam in the ninth. With two outs and runners on the corners after a Jedd Gyorko combacker bounced off Hader's glove, Counsell pulled Hader one out away from a six-out save.
"It wasn't a matchup call, it was just a gut call that Corey was the guy to do it," Counsell said. "There isn't a formula for everything. You have to make a lot of those decisions."
Guerra's escape: Guerra's stiffest test came with one out in the fifth and Yairo Munoz on third base after a sacrifice bunt, when the Brewers right-hander fell behind to pinch-hitter Greg Garcia. Newly acquired catcher Erik Kratz used the first of the Brewers' six mound visits to talk to Guerra, and the pitcher finished the inning by punching out Garcia and leadoff man Matt Carpenter. The Brewers responded by taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of that inning.
"At that point in the game, that was the key at-bat in the game," Kratz said. "I just told him, 'This is where we're going to make that out at.'"
Kratz was acquired from the Yankees' organization last week as the Brewers designated catcher Jett Bandy for assignment. In two starts Kratz has four hits and one home run, and Milwaukee is 2-0.
"These guys have been helpful because they've been open to tell me exactly what they bring to the table," Kratz said. "Catching is always a daily adjustment. We're always learning each other, and I'm just still trying to learn people's names."
Jeffress had not allowed a run since April 6 versus the Cubs. He had not allowed multiple runs since last September. His 23 straight appearances without allowing a run tied a single-season team record set by Doug Jones in 1997 and is matched by John Axford in 2013.
"I pay attention to win streaks," Jeffress said. "That's the only streak I'll pay attention to."
HE SAID IT
"That's a fun fact. I didn't know it until now. 30-0. That's really good. That's awesome." -- Knebel, on being told that the Brewers are 30-0 when leading after seven innings
THAMES CLEARED TO HIT
As expected, the surgeon who repaired the ulnar collateral ligament in first baseman Eric Thames' left thumb cleared the slugger to resume hitting during a check-up on Wednesday in Phoenix. Thames, who has been working out at Maryvale Baseball Park, is expected to progress quickly to a Minor League rehab assignment.
Thames is at the start of his fifth week post-surgery, a procedure originally expected to sideline him 6-8 weeks.
The Brewers leave Milwaukee after a 10-game homestand and are off Thursday before heading to Guaranteed Rate Field for a three-game Interleague set with the White Sox beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Chase Anderson (4-3, 4.42) will start for the first time since pitching 3 2/3, allowing five earned runs against the Mets over the weekend. The White Sox will send Hector Santiago to the mound.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.
** Stephen Cohn ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.