- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Milwaukee pitcher Jimmy Nelson made it easy for John Lackey and the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up five runs in the first inning.

“You can’t allow that much damage that early,” Nelson said.

Lackey used that lead and pitched seven strong innings, leading the Cardinals to a 7-4 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday.

Nelson (2-6) lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and seven runs - six earned. Nelson has allowed 20 runs and 23 hits in 14 2-3 innings and has taken the loss in all four of his appearances - three starts - against St. Louis since last season.

“It’s just really frustrating on my end,” Nelson said. “I have two, three good outings and finally feel like you’re in the right place where you need to be and then you have two or three tough ones. It’s a long season and you’ve got to be consistent.”

Brewers manager Craig Counsell agreed.

“He got into a rhythm, but you’ve got to get into a rhythm right off the bat,” Counsell said.

The 36-year-old Lackey (4-3) scattered 10 hits, allowing three runs while striking out five and walking one. He is 4-1 in four career starts against Milwaukee.

Brewers third baseman Hector Gomez was removed from the game in the bottom of the sixth when he crashed into the seats behind third chasing a foul ball hit by Jason Heyward. He was examined by a physician for a possible concussion and the results were negative.

“I hit my head but not too bad because I put my left arm to protect me just a little bit,” Gomez said. “There’s a bump there. The fans said, ‘Don’t move, don’t move,’ and then I stayed on the floor.”

The Brewers are off Thursday before starting a series at Minnesota on Friday. Gomez said he would be ready to play.

Seeing Gomez be so aggressive didn’t surprise Counsell.

“Hector’s going to do that, he’s going to go all out, no question,” Counsell said.

The Cardinals scored five runs in the first. Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds had RBI singles, and a run scored when Gomez couldn’t handle a grounder for an error.

Nelson didn’t record an out until his 23rd pitch and needed 29 pitches to get out of the inning.

“It’s a great way to start your day,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “It gave John some room to work.”

Gerardo Parra hit a solo homer, his first since May 15, in the third for the Brewers’ first run. Parra was 4 for 5.

Milwaukee added solo runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: OF Ryan Braun didn’t play Wednesday. He flew to Los Angeles to undergo a planned procedure called chryotherapy on a sore right thumb that stems from an injury at the end of last season. It is the second time he’s had the thumb treated.

ROSTER MOVE

The Brewers optioned RHP Tyler Cravy to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Milwaukee recalled OF Shane Peterson from Colorado Springs. Peterson, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2008, started in left field. It was his third game in the majors.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Kyle Lohse (3-6, 6.50 ERA) pitches Friday at Minnesota. Lohse will make his 12th start and has lost his last two. Opponents are hitting .284 with 13 homers against him.

Cardinals: Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.27 ERA) will be facing Los Angeles and making his first appearance at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers handed Wacha his first loss last Saturday. His seven wins are tops in the majors this season.

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