"This is the kind you don't like to lose," said Cardinals manager Mike Shidt. "Ouch."
Ouch is right.
After taking the first series of the season from the Reds on the road, the Cardinals were glad to escape with no injuries, or at least, no physical ones. But the start of their turn in Milwaukee hurt badly enough.
After outfielder Tyler O'Neill received a two-game suspension for his part in the brawl that marred the final game in Cincinnati, the Cards entered Miller Park for the first of a three-game set against the Brew Crew, and the result was a painful 4-2 loss.
While the three previous matches had little drama at game's end, this one culminated in a walkoff. St. Louis (2-2) nemesis Ryan Braun clobbered a Giovanny Gallegos hanger some 430 feet to left center with two on and two out, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.
The loss spoiled a very nice start by Austin Gomber, who spread three hits, with no walks, over five innings and an efficient 69 pitches. His only damage came in the fourth on a Lorenzo Cain homer, when Gomber kept teasing the outside corner, only to come too close on a full count.
But justice could point just as well to Brett Anderson, who gave up only an earned run through six. Trouble was, the earned run, from an earlier Kolten Wong homer, became two on third baseman Eric Sogard's throwing error that allowed Yadier Molina to score from second with two out in Anderson's final frame.
The game up to then was marked by some slick fielding on both sides. Mike Moustakas, not known for his range at second, was quick up the middle on a two hopper in the third off Dexter Fowler's bat that stranded Harrison Bader.
Bader himself robbed the always dangerous Christian Yelich in the opening stanza, crossing behind Fowler and stretching his frame to capture the ball at the top of the right-center field wall.
"That guy (Bader) is something," said the himself speedy Tommy Edman, getitng his first start of the season in left field. "It's not just how awesomely fast he is, he also gets a great jump and so it doubles the effect of his speed."
Those defensive thefts, however, paled in comparison to the ninth-inning torment the Cards suffered. Gallegos, after Ryan Helsley delivered a quick 12-pitch eighth, was heading toward what seemed his first save of the season. Shortstop Orland Arcia started with a soft liner to DeJong, and pinch-hitter Ben Gamel struck out.
Then second baseman Keston Hiura directed an average-at-best roller between first and second, and Yelich wincingly took a full-count ball, maybe three inches outside. Gallegos seemed perturbed, glancing toward home plate for an elongated moment, but thought better of it and turned.
There was nothing halfway about Braun's stroke, though, on a 2-1 count breaking ball that didn't. That one was certain from the get go.
"I don't know who kills us more, Yelich or Braun," said Molina. "They're both killers. We come up here, and when we leave, if we've lost, it's one or both of those guys. Almost always."
Josh Hader pitched the scoreless ninth for the Brewers and took the win.
Next Up and Notes: Tomorrow night Daniel Poncedeleon will get his first start of the young season, against the Brewers' Josh Lindblom. Jack Flaherty will finish up the series for the Cards versus their ace Brandon Woodruff, as Adam Wainwright will get the start at Busch stadium for the home opener Thursday.
Paul Goldschmidt's is making progress with his tender elbow, and is expected to start actively working out in a couple weeks.