- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia never got comfortable on the mound. Zach Davies never let up for Milwaukee.

With such a disparity on the hill, the Brewers made quick work of their NL Central rivals.

Davies had a career-high nine strikeouts over eight shutout innings, and Milwaukee averted a three-game sweep with a 3-1 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Davies (3-3) allowed three hits and retired 13 in a row to finish the longest outing of his young career before yielding to Jeremy Jeffress. The closer gave up a pinch-hit solo homer to Brandon Moss, then retired the final three batters for his 13th save.

Davies, a 23-year-old right-hander, didn’t allow a runner to reach second and frustrated the Cardinals with his change-up and fastball. He struck out the side in the eighth to draw a standing ovation from an appreciative hometown crowd.

“He used his breaking ball to steal strikes early in the count. But it was about fastball location and chasing out of the zone with the change-up,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

It left St. Louis’ sluggers frustrated after entering the day second in the National League with 71 homers and a .460 slugging percentage.

The Brewers scratched out two runs in the first off Jaime Garcia (4-5) and added insurance with Martin Maldonado’s solo homer in the sixth.

Garcia allowed five hits, three walks and two runs before departing after five innings.

“It’s just one of those where he just had trouble finding the feel on a consistent basis,” Matheny said. “But still, he only gave up only a couple runs, five hits. But he had a lot of traffic and a lot of stress innings.”

FIRST FOUR

The Brewers’ first four hitters opened the game with a walk and three straight singles, capped by run-scoring hits for Ryan Braun and Chris Carter.

Milwaukee squandered opportunities for more offense by leaving the bases loaded in the first and third. Maldonado recorded the inning-ending outs each time before atoning in the sixth with his homer off reliever Matt Bowman that landed on the concourse beyond left-center.

“We had some rallies going, we didn’t get the big hit to bust it open. First inning was big, we jumped on (Garcia) when he wasn’t quite locked in,” manager Craig Counsell said.

ZACH ATTACK

The top of the sixth was especially impressive for Davies. He was able to get Matt Carpenter, who was 8 for 10 in the series entering Wednesday, and .330-hitter Aledmys Diaz called out on strikes.

Kolten Wong, who struck out twice, said Davies kept the Cardinals off-balance with his change-up.

“Just something that caught us off guard,” Wong said. “He kept us off balance with his fastball coming in and threw that change-up away.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Garcia showed no discomfort and stayed in the game after getting hit in his lower left leg by a hard bouncer up the middle from Aaron Hill in the third. The ball deflected into short left for an infield single.

Brewers: LHP Will Smith was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. The hard-throwing reliever had been sidelined since spring training after spraining a ligament in his right knee while taking off a shoe in the clubhouse during spring training. Smith had been expected to share closing duties with RHP Jeremy Jeffress this season, and manager Craig Counsell said he would use Smith judiciously to start.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Following an off day, St. Louis returns home on Friday to open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants. Right-handed ace Adam Wainwright (5-3) gets the start. He is 5-0 in his last seven games.

Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (2-6) opens a four-game series on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies. He is 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia.

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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