MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brandon Woodruff struck out 10 over six scoreless innings and Devin Williams delivered four big outs late to boost the Milwaukee Brewers’ playoff hopes with a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
The victory, Milwaukee’s first since last Saturday at Cincinnati, combined with the Phillies’ loss to the Cubs in Chicago moved the Brewers within a half-game of Philadelphia for the third and final NL wild-card spot with seven to play.
“It's big,” Woodruff said. “We just need to keep handling our business and winning games. We're aware of what's going on, we're just trying to continue playing good baseball.”
Woodruff (13-4) was only at 98 pitches when Matt Bush took over to start the seventh. The move backfired immediately when Andrew Knizner led off the inning with his second homer in two days to make it a 2-1 game.
After Ben DeLuzio followed with a double, Bush walked Brendan Donovan before getting his first out of the inning when Dylan Carlson grounded out to first.
Milwaukee then turned to Williams, who intentionally walked pinch-hitter Lars Nootbaar to load the bases and got out of the jam when Juan Yepez grounded into a double play.
“We definitely had some opportunities,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “We had some people on base, we just didn’t drive them in.”
Williams came up big again in the eighth, stranding runners at the corners with back-to-back strikeouts of Knizner and DeLuzio.
“Devin was awesome tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We talked a little bit before the game about the urgency of the situation and frankly, that was not the situation I was envisioning, but he did a heck of a job. That was a really tough spot to come into.”
Cardinals starter Jose Quintana (6-7) struck out seven in five innings. He allowed only one run on an RBI single to Hunter Renfroe in the third.
Since he was dealt from the Pirates to the Cardinals ahead of the trade deadline, Quintana has held opponents to two or fewer earned runs in each of his 11 starts.
“He's done really well,” Marmol said. "Tonight was another great outing."
Milwaukee added an insurance run in the fifth on Keston Hiura’s RBI double off Steven Matz and broke the game open with a three-run eighth, capped by Victor Caratini's two-run, ground-rule double.
WOODRUFF MAKES HISTORY
Woodruff became the first pitcher in franchise history to record four consecutive 10-strikeout games and has struck out at least 10 batters in seven of 26 starts this season.
He's struck out 183 batters on the season, second only to teammate Corbin Burnes, who leads the National League with 231 in 2022.
“I'm just trying to go out there and make pitches,” Woodruff said. “I’m not trying to strike people out but thankfully, they’re swinging and missing.”
MARMOL LOOKS FOR BALANCE
With the NL Central title and playoff seeding locked up, Marmol said he planned to try to balance giving his regulars a consummate amount of rest while keeping them sharp for what's hopefully a deep postseason run.
Marmol kept Albert Pujols and Nolan Arenado out of the lineup Thursday night and pulled Paul Goldschmidt for Nootbaar during the third inning.
“Will certain lineups look different? Are we going to rest guys? Will outings look shorter? Will we use our ’pen a little differently? Yes, to all of those,” Marmol said. "But you still don’t miss on the small details of the game. That’s the stuff that when I say sharp, you keep those things sharp.
“We’re still in the regular season and I hate losing.”
Cardinals: RHP Jordan Hicks (arm fatigue and neck spasms) has been making good progress with his throwing program and will throw off a mound Friday then again on Sunday. If all goes well, he could get activated in time for St. Louis’ season-ending series at Pittsburgh and be available for the start of the playoffs.
Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser was placed on the 15-day injured list and miss the rest of the regular season because of a grade 2 strain of his right groin. RHP Justin Topa was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to replace Houser on Milwaukee’s active roster.
Cardinals: Off Thursday before beginning a series against the Pirates on Friday.
Brewers: Milwaukee opens a four-game series against the Marlins with LHP Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.96 ERA) going up against Miami lefty Braxton Garrett (3-6, 3.52 ERA).
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