MILWAUKEE -- Defense sealed it, but as so often has been the case in the Brewers' surprisingly competitive season, power put them in position to win.Domingo Santana hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and Jonathan Villar added a two-run shot of critical insurance two batters later before
MILWAUKEE -- Defense sealed it, but as so often has been the case in the Brewers' surprisingly competitive season, power put them in position to win.
Domingo Santana hit a tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning and Jonathan Villar added a two-run shot of critical insurance two batters later before Keon Broxton's game-saving catch in the ninth secured a 6-5 Brewers win over the Cardinals. It capped a split of the teams' two-game series at Miller Park while leaving the Brewers within 3 1/2 games of the National League Central-leading Cubs and three games behind the Rockies for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Despite Tommy Pham's two-homer effort and Randal Grichuk coming within inches of a multi-homer game of his own, the Cardinals fell six games out of first and remained 5 1/2 out in the NL Wild Card race.
"These wins are all nail-biters," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Sometimes it takes a great play to win a game, and we got a great play from Broxton."
It also took some big flies to make a winner of Brewers starter Chase Anderson in his first Miller Park start in more than two months, and to put closer Corey Knebel in position for his 30th save. Anderson needed treatment for a cracked fingernail after the first inning, but he surrendered only two hits -- both home runs -- while holding the Cardinals to three runs in six innings of a good matchup with Carlos Martinez, who matched a dubious season high in allowing 10 hits while getting saddled with six runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings of a losing effort.
Martinez was still on the mound in the sixth when Santana led off with his opposite-field home run for a 4-3 Brewers lead. Twenty-one of Santana's 22 homers have sailed to center field or right.
Two batters later, Villar hit his two-run home run. It was his 10th, making Villar the ninth Brewer to reach double-digit homers this season. That's a franchise record, and it moved the Brewers into fifth in the Major Leagues with 189 home runs.
"I would say that's a little bit about our depth and how we've spread out at-bats through a lot of guys," Counsell said. "I know it's a team record, but I've been pretty consistent in saying that depth was going to be important and guys were going to play."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Game-saver: Broxton's leaping, game-ending catch denied a go-ahead home run for Grichuk, who'd already hit a tying solo shot back in the fifth. Adding a wrinkle to his walk-off play, Broxton had only entered the game in the eighth inning for his defense.
"I wouldn't say it's the best [catch] I've made, but it definitely was one of the most important ones," Broxton said. "We definitely needed that win. It's clutch that the boys battled today."
"A couple more inches, feet and we take the lead and probably win that game," Grichuk said. "I definitely felt like [the ball] had a chance."
Airmail: Martinez carried a 2-0 lead into the second inning, but his throwing error helped the Brewers take the lead. With two on and one out, Martinez appeared to cleanly field Villar's comebacker before airing a throw over second base. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play, the Brewers had runners at the corners and their first run across. Hernan Perez and Eric Sogard cashed in with RBI singles for a 3-2 lead.
"This kid, he's not afraid to make plays," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Martinez. "He just has to let it go and trust himself. He should be one of the better defenders from the mound in the league. Three runs turns the tide of that game in a hurry."
In his last start, also a one-run loss for the Cardinals, Martinez airmailed a throw home that also could have started an inning-ending double play. The Padres went on to score twice in the inning.
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"I feel bad, because those are routine plays that I can obviously make," Martinez said, speaking through a translator. "And the fact that it's been twice in a row is obviously frustrating."
Pham-tastic: Pham's multihomer game was the sixth of his career, and he sealed it in the eighth inning by hitting Brewers setup man Anthony Swarzak's best pitch -- a slider away. Pham's two-run homer pulled the Cardinals back within a run at 6-5, but Swarzak was able to escape further damage, thanks to a terrific play by the combination of shortstop Orlando Arcia and first baseman Eric Thames to rob William Fowler of an inning-extending infield hit.
"He gave us a good shot in the arm to get us started, and then getting us right there within striking distance [in the eighth]," Matheny said. "He's putting together a great season. If he has one day where it doesn't look quite right, he makes great adjustments and gets right back in there."
"I saw it when I was foam-rolling today. I looked at the TV and saw, 'Mike Leake traded.' I said, 'Is this a joke?' But April Fools was months ago. It shocked all of us. I was very surprised. Leake is a true pro. There are not too many guys who show up every day and do their job. He's the last of a dying breed." -- Pham, on his reaction to learning Mike Leake had been traded hours before Wednesday's first pitch
Cardinals: The Cardinals' 10-game road trip moves on to San Francisco, where they will begin a four-game series with a 9:15 p.m. CT game on Thursday. Michael Wacha, who has a 10.22 ERA over his past three starts, will look to get back on track while opposing Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.
Brewers:Zach Davies will take the mound Thursday when the Brewers host Giovany Gonzalez and the Nationals at 7:10 p.m. CT for the opener of a four-game series. When the Nationals took two of three games from the Brewers in Washington in mid-July, the teams combined for 38 runs on 58 hits, including 16 home runs, but Davies delivered 7 2/3 scoreless innings to win the series opener.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.