Looper’s scrappy pitching set the tone for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-1 victory on Tuesday night. Looper allowed three hits in five innings.
“When the day started I knew he was the guy I wasn’t going to let beat me, but I didn’t throw many good pitches early in the count to him so I never really gave myself a chance,” Looper said. “That’s not the way I wanted to approach it, but when it’s all said and done we won, and I made some pitches when I had to.”
Skip Schumaker had two hits and two RBIs and Adam Kennedy was 3-for-4 with an RBI for the surprising Cardinals, who lead the NL Central with a 10-4 record. Chris Duncan also had an RBI and Kennedy added a heads-up baserunning play, going from first to third on a groundout and then scoring an insurance run in the seventh.
The Cardinals have won six in a row at home since losing on opening day, their best stretch since a seven-game winning streak from May 11-28, 2005.
“Up and down the lineup, everybody is going to need to a little each night,” Kennedy said. “We can’t leave it all up to the big boys.”
Braun, the NL rookie of the year mired in a 3-for-25 slump and batting .226, got a day off. The Brewers also were without .423-hitting Gabe Kapler, a late scratch with a bruised right shoulder.
The Cardinals prevailed in a unique game that featured both pitchers batting eighth, for different reasons. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa anchors his lineup with singles hitters, giving him a pair of leadoff types after the first time through the lineup to give Albert Pujols more RBI opportunities. Brewers manager Ned Yost does it with catcher Jason Kendall to cut down on double plays at the bottom of the order.
Yost’s strategy didn’t work this time, with pitcher Dave Bush grounding out to end the second and striking out to end the fourth, each time with two runners on, while Kendall was 0-for-3. Milwaukee also left two on in the sixth, the big outs coming on Bill Hall’s second double-play ball of the game.
“We’re going to keep going with it all year,” Yost said. “We don’t switch it out after just one bad night.”
Cardinals ninth-place hitter Cesar Izturis had a two-run single in a three-run eighth, giving him three RBIs on the year.
“The game wasn’t won because the pitcher hit eighth,” La Russa said. “We got some big two-out hits and some clutch pitching.”
Looper (3-0) tied his high with five walks since moving into the rotation last season, including Fielder all three times. Fielder is 3-for-6 with a homer and seven walks against the right-hander and batted .300 with five homers and 14 RBIs against St. Louis last season.
“Some guys like ‘P,’ he was being careful to, but everybody is going to be careful with ‘P,”’ said Joe Dillon, 1-for-3 with a walk while starting in place of Braun. “He made pitches when he had to and we hit some balls hard at some people, but that’s just part of the game.”
Corey Hart had two hits with an RBI single in the fourth for the Brewers, who had totaled 14 runs in a pair of victories prior to Tuesday. Fielder, who is in a 2-for-23 slump, drew a career-high fourth walk in the eighth.
Bush (0-3) allowed three runs on six hits in six innings in the strongest of his three starts. But he has a 7.02 ERA and is in danger of losing his rotation spot with Yovani Gallardo due to come off the 15-day disabled list this weekend.
“I’m not worried about that,” Bush said. “I go out there pitch by pitch and like I said, I felt overall pretty good with the way I threw, just not the result.”
Two-out hits in the first by Pujols and Rick Ankiel put runners on the corners, and Pujols scored on a wild pitch to put the Cardinals ahead. Schumaker and Duncan had consecutive RBI singles with two outs in the fifth for a 3-1 cushion.
Yost said Braun would be back in the lineup on Wednesday and Kapler also would play if he felt good. … Looper also walked five on May 29, 2007, at Colorado. He walked two in 11 2/3 innings his first two starts of the year. … Bush is 1-4 with a 6.98 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals. … Kennedy was 3-for-17 on the Cardinals’ just-completed seven-game trip. … Cardinals starters have eight victories. … LHP Mark Mulder threw 63 pitches in his first rehab start for Class A Palm Beach, allowing two runs—one earned— on six hits in five innings. He had one strikeout and no walks.