MILWAUKEE (AP)—Ned Yost’s patience in Keith Osik paid off handsomely Monday night.
Osik hit a solo homer and two-run double in Milwaukee’s seven-run seventh inning as the Brewers rallied past the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4.
Osik, who entered the game with three RBIs all year, equaled career highs with three hits and four RBIs.
He credited his manager for sticking with him during a dreary first impression in Milwaukee, where he signed on as a minor league free agent after spending seven seasons as Jason Kendall’s backup in Pittsburgh.
“I think early on I was pressing a little bit, coming to a new team, a new city,” Osik said.
“The best part is Ned never lost confidence in me. I was pretty atrocious for the first month. And he never batted an eye with me and kept believing in me.”
Yost said Osik was his own worst enemy early in the season because he was trying so hard to win the starting job from fellow newcomer Eddie Perez.
“But the way it’s worked out, we really have two No. 1 guys,” Yost said. “We stuck with him.”
Osik led off the seventh with his first homer since Aug. 21, 2002, and capped the club’s biggest inning this season with a two-run double down the third-base line.
After surrendering Osik’s homer, Cal Eldred (3-2), who gave up four runs in one-third of an inning, loaded the bases by allowing two singles and walking Eric Young—who was attempting a sacrifice bunt—on four pitches.
Kline walked John Vander Wal with the bases full and Wes Helms drove in another run with a fielder’s choice to make it 7-4. Osik’s two-run double bounced over the third-base bag and into the left-field corner.
“They got something going offensively that we couldn’t put a stop to,” Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny said. “Timely hitting is a key in baseball. And tonight they had it and we didn’t.”
Curtis Leskanic (3-0) picked up the win with a laborious, 26-pitch scoreless inning of relief in which he walked two batters and struck out one.
Leskanic has been the subject of trade rumors—the latest has him going to Kansas City in a three-way deal with Colorado, and he was taken aback when reporters gathered around his locker after the game.
“What did I do? Get traded?” he said.
The poor performances by Eldred and Kline ruined a stellar one by Cardinals rookie Kiko Calero, who pitched five innings in his first major league start and left with a 4-1 lead.
Calero allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out nine.
“That was impressive,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “I don’t know how it could have been better.”
Calero started in place of Brett Tomko, who pitched in relief Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Tomko will pitch the series finale Thursday at Miller Park.
J.D. Drew and Matheny homered for St. Louis, which has lost five of six and has gone nine games since getting a win from one of its starting pitchers.
Matheny set a career high with four hits, including two doubles, and raised his batting average at Miller Park to .428 (27-for-63) over 18 games.
Wayne Franklin allowed four runs on five hits in five innings, including solo homers by Drew in the second and Matheny in the third. Drew’s homer was his ninth. He also had an RBI double in the first.
The Brewers pulled to 3-1 in the fourth when Jenkins doubled and scored on Osik’s two-out single.
La Russa said he counted eight missed scoring opportunities.
“We kept it close and then our bullpen had a bad day,” he said.
Scott Rolen missed a start for the second time for St. Louis this season. He was replaced by Eduardo Perez because of a stiff neck and sore shoulders, the result of a collision at home plate and various tumbling defensive plays over the last few days. … Brewers RHP Todd Ritchie will have season-ending shoulder surgery Tuesday. He was 1-2 with a 5.08 ERA in five starts before fatigue led to a diagnosis of a torn rotator cuff in his rightshoulder.