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Garcia shakes off lone blip to ground Crew

Cardinals lefty rebounds from shortest outing of season

MILWAUKEE -- A glance at Jaime Garcia's final line could leave the impression he had to grind through his outing against the Brewers on Wednesday night.

But outside of one mistake that resulted in a three-run home run, Garcia was sharp and bounced back from his worst start of the season to help the Cardinals increase their lead to four games in the National League Central with a 5-4 victory at Miller Park.

The Brewers collected four straight hits to start the bottom of the fourth inning -- including a three-run homer by catcher Martin Maldonado -- to put four quick runs on the board. But by then the Cardinals had already scored their five runs.

Garcia, who entered having allowed just one run in 14 innings against the Brewers this season, settled back in to retire 10 of the final 12 batters he faced over 6 1/3 innings.

"I think it was one pitch," Garcia said. "The other couple of hits I gave up there were on good pitches. There were a couple of grounders and a blooper. Those are things you can't do anything about. It was literally one pitch."

Video: [email protected]: Maldonado smashes three-run homer off Garcia

After holding the Brewers scoreless through three innings, Garcia allowed a leadoff single to Khris Davis. Domingo Santana followed with an infield hit, which third baseman Matt Carpenter threw away to allow Davis to go to third.

Elian Herrera then blooped a single into shallow right field to score Davis. Maldonado then jumped on the first pitch he saw from Garcia and knocked it out.

"It was really just the one inning where the ball was up," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He came out of the gate throwing real good sinkers. It was just ground ball after ground ball. It's not that easy to do it all the time. The ball does get a little out of where you want it to be. If it comes up in the zone on a day like this, it is going to go. But he got right back on to it."

Garcia retired eight batters in a row following the home run, with the first six of those outs coming on ground balls. Overall, he induced 12 groundouts en route to his ninth win.

The only blemishes on Garcia's line after the fourth inning were an infield single by Maldonado in the sixth inning and a double by Jean Segura that chased the left-hander from the game in the seventh.

"I was able to stay in the game," Garcia said. "That didn't really affect me mentally or physically. I was able to make pitches as if nothing happened."

After posting a 1.89 ERA over his first 15 starts, Garcia allowed a season-high six runs over a season-low 4 1/3 innings in an 11-0 loss to Cincinnati last Thursday.

While Garcia allowed four or more earned runs for just the third time this season Wednesday, he looked more like his usual self.

"I thought he was extremely good again," Matheny said. "You saw ground balls. … When he's down and in the zone, it is impressive stuff."

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to
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