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Mikolas homers, pitches Cardinals over Crew

Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Mike Matheny had heard that right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas had a little bit of pop in his bat, but considering the source, the Cardinals' manager wasn't putting much stock in the scouting report.

"Thats usually [Adam Wainwright]," Matheny said. "All he does is talk about how good the pitchers are, so you have to take it with a grain of salt."

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MILWAUKEE -- Mike Matheny had heard that right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas had a little bit of pop in his bat, but considering the source, the Cardinals' manager wasn't putting much stock in the scouting report.

"Thats usually [Adam Wainwright]," Matheny said. "All he does is talk about how good the pitchers are, so you have to take it with a grain of salt."

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Mikolas, though, lived up to the billing on Monday. Making his first big league start since August 2014, he worked 5 2/3 innings on the mound and came up big at the plate, crushing Zach Davies for a two-run home run in the fifth in the Cardinals' 8-4 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.

"I watched him in batting practice [during Spring Training], and he looked OK," Matheny said. "The live stuff, he was looking a little off, but they kept telling me that he had the potential to do some damage, and they were right."

Video: STL@MIL: Mikolas gets Yelich swinging in the 1st

The 29-year-old spent the past three seasons pitching in Japan, where he compiled a 2.18 ERA -- and also hit two home runs. He signed a two-year contract with St. Louis in December and went 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in six spring appearances, wrapping up his exhibition slate with three scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on March 29.

Gyorko exits with strained right hamstring

Mikolas struck out five Monday and allowed four runs on seven hits but didn't walk a batter. Manny Pina, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Thames all dinged him for home runs, with Thames' two-run shot in the sixth ending his day a little earlier than planned.

Staked to an 8-2 lead, Mikolas retired Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun to open the inning, but a single by Travis Shaw set up Thames' home run. Mikolas threw a curve that caught just enough of the plate

Video: STL@MIL: Thames cranks a two-run homer to right field

Pina followed with a single and Jonathan Villar reached on an error by Mikolas.

"It's frustrating because I know they wanted to get me through six," said Mikolas, who earned his first Major League victory since Aug. 25, 2014, with the Rangers. "We have a great bullpen, but I wanted to help alleviate the load on them."

Holland reports to Jupiter, will join Cards next week

Matheny was pleased with what he saw.

Video: STL@MIL: Cards talk Mikolas, DeJong success

"Exactly what we were hoping for," Matheny said. "He came out and pounded the zone. The fastball was jumping out of his hand, but his curveball made everything better."

The loss was the first of the season for the Brewers, who returned home after sweeping the Padres in San Diego over the weekend.

Video: STL@MIL: Gyorko plates DeJong with a double to left

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Breathing room:
The Cardinals took a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, and chased Brewers starter Zach Davies with four singles and a sacrifice fly. Counsell brought in right-hander Brandon Woodruff to face Paul DeJong, but the move backfired as DeJong, who homered twice Sunday, blew the game open when he hit Woodruff's second pitch, a slider, for a three-run homer and an 8-2 lead.

DeJong finished with three hits Monday and is 7-for-15 through four games this season.

"He's playing well," Matheny said. "He's got confidence in the box and in the field. He's off to a nice start."

Video: STL@MIL: DeJong clubs a three-run homer to left field

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.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mikolas became the first Cardinals pitcher besides 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.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
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. Matheny challenged, but the call stood.

Video: STL@MIL: Pina nabs Pham stealing, call stands

'I WILL GET A HIT'
Yes, Dexter Fowler got a hit. After taking to Twitter on Monday morning to express that certainty -- 13 times, once for each of the outfielder's hitless at-bats in the Cardinals' first three games in New York -- Fowler snapped an 0-for-14 start to his season by blooping an RBI single off Davies in the third inning for a 2-1 lead. Davies retired the first six men he faced before DeJong led off that third inning with a single and scored on Gyorko's double. Two batters later, Fowler found his way into the hit column. More >

• After Fowler's hit tweet worked, other players picked up the trend

Video: STL@MIL: Fowler cracks an RBI single to center field

WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals: Jack Flaherty makes his 2018 debut Tuesday against the Brewers at Miller Park at 6:40 p.m. CT. The 22-year-old was slated to open the year at Triple-A Memphis after posting a 4.60 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances (four starts), but he was slotted into the back of St Louis' rotation when Adam Wainwright landed on the disabled list to start the season. Flaherty got his first taste of big league action at the end of the 2017 season, going 0-1 with a 6.33 ERA, and his final outing of the season came against the Brewers, who tagged him for four runs over five innings in a 6-1 Cardinals loss on Oct. 1 at Busch Stadium.

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

Andrew Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cardinals on Monday.

Miles Mikolas