- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - When Jimmy Nelson was struck in the back of the head by a line drive and crumpled to the mound, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers feared a severe injury.

Nelson wound up hospitalized overnight for observation after a CT scan showed a contusion Thursday night.

“I think he escaped without any serious harm,” Counsell said after a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. “We’re very, very fortunate. It’s scary. It’s not something you ever want to see.”

Nelson was hit by Tommy Pham’s liner in the third inning. Nelson crumpled on the mound and remained prone face down for about a minute.

“I don’t think it’s easy for anybody to see,” Counsell said. “It wasn’t good.”

Nelson (11-13) was able to walk off the field.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals completed a three-game sweep and sent Milwaukee to its sixth straight loss. John Lackey pitched seven shutout innings as St. Louis extended its edge over Pittsburgh to five games in the division race.

There was another delay in the seventh when a fan was hit by a foul ball off the bat of St. Louis pinch hitter Matt Holliday. The fan got medical attention and was able to walk out of the stadium bowl.

Lackey (12-9) scattered five hits and two walks while striking out eight. He has a 2.23 ERA in his last 17 starts dating to June 15.

Pham tripled, doubled and singled, driving in two runs and scoring twice. Matt Carpenter got three hits, including a home run.

“It’s important that we continue to play the right way,” Counsell said. “If we’re playing good and we get beat, I’m OK with that. I’m not OK with sloppy play. We’re playing good teams right now and we know we have to play a very good baseball game to beat these teams.”

Jean Segura hit a three-run homer with two outs in the Milwaukee ninth off Mitch Harris.

Pham’s liner hit Nelson and ricocheted down the left-field line for a double and was retrieved by third baseman Elian Herrera. Nelson got to his knees and later stood up as Pham watched with a look of anguish.

“In the moment, I was shocked, but I saw the ball and I had to go and get it,” Herrera said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Holliday struck out in his first game since July 29. He had been out because of a strained right quadriceps. He fouled the first pitch he saw from reliever Cesar Jimenez down the right-field line, striking a fan.

Brewers: RF Ryan Braun was back in the lineup after being scratched Wednesday with a back injury. … Jonathan Lucroy remains out with concussion symptoms, but Counsell said he expects his catcher to play again this year. … RHP Matt Garza left the team this week to be with his wife as she delivers twins and the team said he would not return this season. Garza was removed from the rotation earlier this month and refused to pitch out of the bullpen.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: St. Louis plays a day game to open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Lance Lynn (11-10) will start and is 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in his last two starts, giving up nine earned runs in just 8 1-3 innings.

Brewers: The team opens a three-game home series with the Reds, and Cincinnati’s Brandon Finnegan will make his first major league start Friday night. Finnegan, the 17th pick in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft by Kansas City, was traded to the Reds on July 26 in the deal that sent Johnny Cueto to the Royals. Finnegan has pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings over two relief appearances since joining the Reds.

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