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Cardinals complete sweep of Brewers

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Few teams have been as frustrating lately for the Milwaukee Brewers as the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was St. Louis that brought Milwaukee's playoff run to an end in 2011, and it was the Cardinals who held on down the stretch last season to clinch one of the two National League Wild Card berths.

And now, after the Brewers' 10-1 loss to the Cardinals Sunday at Miller Park, Milwaukee is 1-6 against St. Louis this season, having been outscored, 42-17 in those seven games.

"We played a bad series," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We don't do it too often at home, but we played a bad series."

The four-game sweep was the Cardinals' first-ever against Milwaukee, which joined St. Louis in the National League Central in 1998.

"That's hard to do," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the road sweep. "We were excited to come in and do the job well."

There were a lot of factors at play during the sweep, but Sunday, it all came down to the starting pitchers. In a nutshell, the Cardinals' Jamie Garcia was very good; Milwaukee's Marco Estrada was anything but.

Estrada managed to escape the first inning unscathed after allowing a leadoff single by Jon Jay and a walk to Shane Robinson, but couldn't recover in the second, when he walked four and hit a batter before Allen Craig's bases-loaded double gave St. Louis a 5-0 lead.

Craig scored on a Yadier Molina base hit to make it 6-0.

Estrada retired four of the next five batters before Robinson opened the fourth with a base hit and scored on Matt Holliday's fifth home run of the season.

Estrada's day was over after just 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander was charged with eight runs on six hits and five walks with five strikeouts, a hit batter and a home run. In his last three outings, Estrada is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA.

"I just had no feel for the ball," Estrada said. "I couldn't locate, I wasn't throwing pitches where I wanted to throw them. I just couldn't find it.

"We were down 3-0 in the series and I wanted to go out and give it my best today. Not being able to do that just kills me right now."

While Estrada struggled, his counterpart, Garcia, rolled along. The St. Louis left-hander gave up eight hits and walked one, but held the Brewers to just one run while striking out three over eight innings.

"It was a little bit of everything today and it started with Jamie," said Matheny.

In two starts against the Brewers this season, Garcia is 1-0 and has allowed just one run in 15 innings of work. For the season, Garcia is now 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA and has allowed just three runs in his last three starts, spanning 21 2/3 innings.

"He's tough," said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who went hitless in three trips. "He mixed his pitches well, was throwing strikes and used his back-door cutter a lot. He kept us off balance."

Garcia's only challenge came in the fifth.

Carlos Gomez led off that inning with a double and scored on Alfredo Figaro's first career base hit. With two out, Jean Segura and Ryan Braun loaded the bases with back-to-back singles but Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging, ending the Brewers' threat.

"I was able to keep the ball down with my sinker," Garcia said. "I was able to get out of the jam."

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the eighth when Molina singled with the bases loaded against Milwaukee's John Axford.

Carlos Martinez worked a perfect ninth to close it out for St. Louis.

NOTES: Milwaukee honored the 1913 American Association champion Brewers with throwback uniforms. The Cardinals also wore uniforms modeled after their 1913 team, which finished 55-88, last in the National League. ... Jay returned to the leadoff spot Sunday after reaching base eight times in the first three games of the series. Jay reached four times, singling twice and getting hit by pitches twice. ... Gomez doubled to lead off the fifth inning, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, tying a career-high.

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