The Cardinals look to keep beating up on the beleaguered Brewers staff and continue their run at the NL Central leaders on Thursday when the clubs conclude their three-game set at Miller Park.
Fielder, leading the NL with 37 home runs, was suspended for three games by the commissioner’s office on Tuesday for “inappropriate and aggressive conduct” during a confrontation with plate umpire Wally Bell on Sunday. It appeared Fielder would have to sit out the final two games of this key series, but he appealed the suspension and was in the lineup Wednesday night.
It is unclear when the All-Star first baseman’s appeal will be heard.
“When I do it, it’s nothing personal - because I never argue with them, that’s my point,” said Fielder, who has seven homers in 13 games this month.
Despite his continued production, Milwaukee (62-58) has gone 4-9 in August while watching the defending World Series champion Cardinals pull within 3 1/2 games - the closest they’ve been since April 26.
Just 10 days ago, St. Louis (57-60) was eight games behind Milwaukee. The Cardinals have won four straight to match a season high, batting .376 while scoring 38 runs, and now seek their longest winning streak since a six-game run in July of last season.
The Brewers’ struggles can be blamed on a pitching staff which has a 7.08 ERA and a .321 opponent batting average in August. Milwaukee has served up 26 homers in 13 games this month, including one apiece to Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds on Wednesday in an 8-3 loss.
“You just keep hoping that today’s the day that we’re going to break out of it,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
One night earlier, St. Louis had a season-high 19 hits in a 12-4 victory to open the series. The Cardinals have won five straight over the Brewers, totaling 41 runs and 65 hits.
Rolen is 6-for-10 with five runs and three RBIs in the past two games after entering this series in a 2-for-19 slump. Over the past three games, Edmonds has gone 8-for-14 with six RBIs while Pujols is 7-for-13 with five runs.
Pujols had gone homerless in 10 consecutive games before hitting the 275th of his career on Wednesday.
“It’s just another home run,” said Pujols, hitting .432 with 12 RBIs in 11 games against Milwaukee this year. “That’s how I look at it. What it means is I did something to help my team out to win today.”
The Cardinals have scored seven runs off each of Milwaukee’s starters - Chris Capuano and Yovani Gallardo - and now look to hand Dave Bush (9-8, 5.07 ERA) a similar fate. Bush has given up seven earned runs in each of his two career starts against St. Louis - both came last season and he lost both.
The Brewers have won 11 of Bush’s last 14 starts and he’s 6-2 in that span, but the right-hander has struggled recently. He has a 7.18 ERA in his past three starts, allowing 26 hits in 16 1-3 innings. Five of those hits were home runs, and he’s served up 10 over his last six starts.
Bush blew a lead in his last outing by giving up a three-run homer in the fifth inning at Houston on Friday, but the Brewers won 5-4 in 11 innings.
St. Louis counters with Adam Wainwright (10-9, 4.21), the converted reliever who does not appear to be wearing down despite the added innings this season. He is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA over his last seven starts, pitching at least seven innings in five of them, and he received only one run of support in each of the two losses.
That was the case on Friday, when he pitched his first career complete game in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wainwright was two outs away from a shutout when he allowed a two-run homer, the first home run he’s allowed in seven starts since June 30.
No current Milwaukee player has homered off Wainwright, who will be making his first start against the Brewers. He’s faced them seven times in relief, allowing one run and four hits in nine innings.