- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Pitching in a sold-out big league ballpark in September was too much for Tyler Wagner this time.

The Milwaukee Brewers rookie starter had his evening ruined early in a 5-1 loss to the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.

“I don’t think I was as comfortable as I would have liked to be,” the 24-year-old Wagner said. “I just think the atmosphere of the stadium and certain situations that I haven’t been in here, I’ll try to learn from them.”

Jaime Garcia worked eight dominant innings and the Cardinals maintained their three-game division lead over the Pirates, who beat the Cubs Saturday.

Wagner (0-1) was hit hard in a four-run first, with six consecutive batters reaching safely with one out.

It was his second career start and first since May 31. Manager Craig Counsell thought lack of control was a bigger problem than nerves for a pitcher who was 11-5 with a 2.25 ERA and a Southern League All-Star at Double-A Biloxi.

“You have to have secondary pitches to make your fastball more effective, and he did a better job of that in the later innings,” Counsell said. “You fall behind big-league hitters and you limit yourself in your pitch choices, it’s trouble for anybody.”

It wasn’t all bad for the Brewers kids. Michael Reed doubled as a pinch hitter in his first major league at-bat in the sixth and scored on a single by Jonathan Lucroy, Yhonathan Barrios had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings and Adrian Houser worked a scoreless eighth.

“There were some positives out of tonight, for sure,” Counsell said. “We got down early and the bullpen did a really nice job.”

For the Cardinals, Matt Holliday had a pair of RBI doubles, and Kolten Wong’s two-run single capped the four-run first.

Matt Carpenter was removed after five innings with left hip tightness for precautionary reasons, the latest setback for the team. Earlier in the day, 14-game winner Carlos Martinez was shut down for the rest of the season with a strained right shoulder.

Garcia (10-5) allowed a run on seven hits, retiring 10 in a row at one point. The lefty struck out eight with no walks and reached double figures in victories for the first time since 2011.

Garcia, whose career was revived by thoracic outlet surgery in 2014, is 7-1 since Aug. 1, and the Cardinals are 10-1 in his last 11 starts.

The Cardinals are 98-57 overall and 55-25 at home, both major league bests, heading into the home regular-season finale on Sunday.


Wong ranged far to his left at 2B to rob Jean Segura of a hit in the third.


Brewers: Lucroy got a spot start at 1B and had two hits, but Counsell said Adam Lind will get the bulk of the playing time there, and that Lucroy, coming off a concussion, won’t catch again this season. Lucroy and Ryan Braun (lower back) both were in the Brewers lineup for the first time since Sept. 8.

Cardinals: C Yadier Molina, sidelined since Sunday by a slight ligament tear in his left thumb, will be examined Monday. The team has been hopeful he’ll return before the end of the season.


John Lackey (13-9, 2.74) can become the fourth Cardinals pitcher to win 10 games at home in a season and he’s 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts against Milwaukee. Brewers starter Tyler Cravy (0-8, 6.21) allowed a run in seven innings in his major league debut at St. Louis on June 2.

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