Cardinals clinch NL playoff berth, push winning streak to 17 games


ST. LOUIS – For the second time in two games, the Milwaukee Brewers entered a game that ended in a big celebration.

Except this time, they are the ones heading towards the visitors’ canoe.

Brandon Woodruff started but only pitched four innings, and the tiniest lights of the Milwaukee reliever box were not up to a St. Louis Cardinals offense that just can’t be stopped for the moment.

The result was a 6-2 loss to the Brewers at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, the fifth in a row for the Cardinals, who extended a franchise record by winning their 17th straight game.

Most notably, they clinched the second and final wild card spot in the National League after a performance led by dependable old Adam Wainwright, who started and won his 20th career game against the Brewers, and three Milwaukee pitching homers. .

The Brewers had nine hits on the night, but only scored two runs, on a Luis Urías homer in the fourth inning.

The highlight of Milwaukee’s first three innings was a pair of formidable defensive plays left by Christian Yelich.

He finished the first inning with a plunging capture of a sinking ocean liner over Nolan Arenado’s bat.

Then in the third, he kept St. Louis off the board by playing Tyler O’Neill’s double in the left corner of the field and throwing in to Kolten Wong. Wong, in turn, threw a powerful home throw at Omar Narváez to reduce a slippery Paul Goldschmidt.

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The Brewers had a runner in fourth when Urías hit his 22nd homer of the season, a “Big Mac Land” backboard shot on the left third deck facing, making it a 2-0 game.

“Luis did a good job and the circuit is good,” said manager Craig Counsell, whose side won the Central Division title in their previous game on Sunday with an 8-4 victory over the Mets. New York at American Family Field.

“The goal for all of these guys is just to have them go well last week here. I think Wicho saw the ball well and had some really good hitters tonight.”

Urías, in the end, was not even in the original starting lineup, but got the go-ahead shortly before game time when the Brewers pulled Willy Adames out for precautionary reasons with a discomfort in the left quadriceps.

“I would just say it’s day to day,” Counsell said. “He was just a little stiff coming off today, basically. There’s no injury; nothing happened. He was just stiff and frankly we’re going to be very conservative at this point. (in the NLDS) it would not have been removed from the game, I can tell you that.

“So we’ll go from day to day, literally. See how he comes in tomorrow and how he feels. Don’t worry, don’t think this will impact anything.

“Just be careful.”

Jace Peterson called with a single against Wainwright, then with two outs, Woodruff released a single on the left. But Wong failed, leaving the Brewers to settle for a 2-0 lead.

It didn’t last long.

Dylan Carlson led the bottom of the frame with a homer in the St. Louis relievers box at center right, then after a pair of singles blooping, Wainwright posed a perfect sacrifice to score Harrison Bader and tie the score at 2 – 2.

With Counsell stating ahead of the game that he would look to save innings a bit with some starters, it’s no surprise that it was Jandel Gustave and not Woodruff who took the mound for fifth.

Woodruff threw 63 shots and allowed seven hits with three strikeouts.

Gustave (1-1), meanwhile, ceded the lead to two throws in the fifth as Goldschmidt started with a double and O’Neill roped up a right single that Avisaíl García passed – an error that caused the ball to roll almost to the warning lane.

Goldschmidt scored, O’Neill was third and Arenado scored with a sacrifice fly in the middle.

Milwaukee had one final gasp in the sixth with two ons and one out only to see Tyrone Taylor drop to 0 for 12 since his two-homer game against the Cardinals last week with a strikeout and Eduardo Escobar was eliminated.

“He pitched well. He’s a tough customer, ”Counsell said of Wainwright, who has improved to 17-7 this season. “We know him very well. I thought his cutter was a good shot tonight for him.

“He was very effective tonight – against our lefties in particular. Luis had a big hit and we had a few trades going on, but we couldn’t finish any of them.”

José Rondón and Arenado hit solo homers against Hoby Milner in the sixth and seventh, respectively, to top the scoring.