MILWAUKEE - As players discussed their plans for the all-star break and joked with each other prior to Sunday’s game with Milwaukee, Cardinal pitcher Carlos Martinez flitted around the clubhouse in his typical hyper frenzy.
Unfortunately for the young Cardinal pitcher, he was unable to transform that good-natured energy into a focused performance Sunday as the Brewers pounded the Cardinals 11-2 to regain a tenuous hold on first place in the National League Central.
Martinez clearly was not focused early as he surrendered seven hits, three walks and a hit batsman in his first four innings of work. His five early strikeouts allowed him to escape trouble, but even the slumping Brewers could not botch so many chances.
Martinez was not the only Cardinal guilty of looking ahead to some time off. A steady parade of ineffective relievers and weak swings at the plate doomed the Redbirds from the first pitch.
Martinez surrendered four straight shots up the middle to start the game, let two runners advance on a balk and still managed to escape with only two runs. He loaded the bases in the second inning on walks and managed to fan the last two outs, keeping the score 2-0.
But Gennet’s double after Martinez surrendered a single and hit a batter in the fourth gave the Brewers all the runs they’d need as they took a 4-1 lead.
It got worse from there. Seth Maness surrendered four runs including a homer and Jason Motte gave up a lead-off single before retiring the side on long outs with the Brewers already ahead 8-1.
Nick Greenwood, who drew praise from Cards’ skipper Mike Matheny Friday night for shutting the door on the Brewers and allowing the Redbirds to get back into that game, relieved Motte but could not repeat the magic. He surrendered three runs, four hits, and hit a batter before the game mercifully ended. In all the Brewers knocked out 19 hits, none of them cheap.
At the plate, the lifeless Cards could only muster five hits and scored their first run when Kolten Wong struck out but beat a throw to first on a passed ball. He advanced around the bases and scored on an infield out. The final tally in the ninth run scored on a botched double play.
For a team that banged out 23 hits and scored 17 runs in the previous two games, it was a puny effort. Wily Peralta was masterful in dominating the Cardinal hitters, throwing just 80 pitches in seven innings.
The Cards now fall to 52-44 and will open the second half with the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night at Busch Stadium.