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Thames' 17th homer sends Crew past Cards

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Eric Thames snapped out of his offensive funk with his 17th homer and three RBIs to lead way as the Brewers weathered a Cardinals comeback and two rain delays for their second straight win over St. Louis, 7-6, on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

"We did a good job again jumping on a starting pitcher early before he got in it, and before he looks up we've got six on the board against him, against a really good starting pitcher," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's been a little bit of our formula this year, and then we hung on."

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ST. LOUIS -- Eric Thames snapped out of his offensive funk with his 17th homer and three RBIs to lead way as the Brewers weathered a Cardinals comeback and two rain delays for their second straight win over St. Louis, 7-6, on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

"We did a good job again jumping on a starting pitcher early before he got in it, and before he looks up we've got six on the board against him, against a really good starting pitcher," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's been a little bit of our formula this year, and then we hung on."

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Thames, who entered the night hitting just .108 in June, blasted a two-run home run in the first and added an RBI double in the second as the National League Central leaders built a 6-0 lead after an inning and a half.

"It's just been a grind, just from being sick, to my leg being messed up and then my mechanical stuff, but that's baseball," Thames said. "You have to grind through it. ... I'm gonna keep fighting, keep plugging away, keep adjusting and I think at the end of the day, it's gonna be good."

Video: MIL@STL: Thames doubles to right, knocks in Sogard

The Brewers built their lead against Mike Leake (5-6), who allowed six runs on nine hits in six innings in another uneven start for the Cardinals' right-hander. Though he settled in after the first two innings, he has allowed 18 runs over his last 24 2/3 innings, a span of four starts.

"Any day that you're off just a little bit is going to run him into some of those counts that he got himself into," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Leake's performance. "Just a little bit atypical, but he's been incredible all season long, and this is just one of those days where he had to make the adjustments he did late, and unfortunately they had already capitalized on it."

The Cardinals' bats did their part to pick up Leake by spoiling Matt Garza's return from the disabled list with a four-run second inning. The much-needed rally was highlighted by a two-run triple from Jose Martinez and RBI doubles from Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter. Garza (3-2) settled in after that but allowed those four runs on five hits over five innings.

Video: MIL@STL: Carpenter plates Wong with a double to right

The offenses slowed down as the weather turned, but Milwaukee got an insurance run in the seventh when Hernan Perez's two-out RBI single off Kevin Siegrist brought home Domingo Santana to make it 7-4. After that half-inning, the game's first rain delay halted play for 50 minutes.

Video: MIL@STL: Perez singles to right, scores Santana

The Crew needed that run, as Aledmys Diaz's two-out, two-run homer made it a 7-6 game on the final swing before the tarp went back on the field for a one-hour delay in the eighth.

The Brewers called on closer Corey Knebel to record the final four outs, and he came through with his 10th save of the season.

"Corey did a great job again, coming in to get four outs at the end," Counsell said. "Unfortunately, playing through the rain at the end was difficult, for sure, and a little dicey, but in the end, Corey's four outs again -- huge."

Video: MIL@STL: Knebel strikes out Fowler and gets the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Brewers' big bopper: Thames' team-leading 17th home run was a welcomed sight for Milwaukee. After setting the franchise record for homers in the month of April (11), the first baseman hit three in May and had just two in June before his 411-foot blast into the Cardinals' bullpen on Wednesday.

"Leake's very good at nibbling on the strike zone -- cutter, two-seam, his changeup," Thames said. "I was lucky to get a changeup a little bit up and get the barrel on it, and even though I was off balance I was still able to muscle it out."

Video: MIL@STL: Brewers take early lead on Thames' homer

Rain-maker: Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes tried to close out the eighth inning in a downpour, but Diaz wrapped his home run just inside the left-field foul pole to cut the Cardinals' deficit to 7-6. Immediately after the homer, the tarp went back on the field for the second rain delay.

"It was coming down pretty good, he was taking a good at-bat," Matheny said of Diaz's homer in the rain. "[He] just kept his hands inside so well the ball looked like he even hit it back towards left-center. It was a beautiful swing, great timing and got us right back within one run with a lot of momentum headed our direction. Rain kind of slowed that down, but we had a chance there all the way to the end."

Video: MIL@STL: Diaz smacks a two-run homer down the line

WONG LEAVES INJURED
Wong was removed from the game at the start of the sixth inning because of a tight right forearm. The second baseman just returned from the 10-day DL on Friday after dealing with a left elbow strain. He has hit safely in all six games he's played since, including four doubles.

"He was favoring it, he couldn't really throw," Matheny said. "I think it happened on his check swing, so we'll have him really looked at closely and figure out what we're really dealing with here and decide how long that's going to take."

Wong exits with tight right forearm

Video: MIL@STL: Wong scores Martinez with a double to right

QUOTABLE
"I think any team that takes a 6-0 deficit -- and you can see it going in a bad direction -- to come back with the at-bats we took in the second, guys just [have] a next-man-up kind of approach. Even right there till the end. … I like where the offense is and the direction that we're headed." -- Matheny, on the Cardinals not giving up

"They battled it out through two rain delays. … It felt like another doubleheader today. Just exhausted." -- Garza, on Wednesday's game having almost two hours of delays a day after the clubs played a day-night doubleheader

Video: MIL@STL: Garza strikes out Leake

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton made it look easy, but his running catch to snare Martinez's line drive to the right-center gap in the fourth inning had just an 18 percent catch probability, according to Statcast™. Broxton covered 67 feet in 3.9 seconds to make the five-star play.

Video: MIL@STL: Broxton makes grab with just 18% probability

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Perez was called out at first base, as part of a 4-6-3 double play, for what would have been the final out in the top of the first inning. The Brewers challenged the call and, after a 41-second review, the call was overturned. Milwaukee is 5-9 in challenges this season.

Video: MIL@STL: Brewers challenge double play in the 1st

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Right-hander Zach Davies (7-3, 4.74 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season and third against the Cardinals in Thursday's series finale. He is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five career starts against St. Louis and 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA this season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT.

Cardinals: Making his 12th start of the season on Thursday night, Michael Wacha (3-3, 4.50 ERA) will look to continue his success against the Brewers and earn his second consecutive quality start. When playing at home, the right hander is 3-0 with a 3.81 ERA in five career games against Milwaukee.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis and covered the Brewers on Wednesday.

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis and covered the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Eric Thames