for this game

Brewers blank Cardinals to complete rare series sweep

May 2, 2007 - 9:47 PM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Carlos Villanueva helped the Milwaukee Brewers achieve a rare feat against the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

Villanueva tossed four strong innings in relief of injured starter Chris Capuano as the Brewers posted a 4-0 triumph Wednesday, completing a three-game series sweep of the slumping Cardinals.

It was the 11th victory in the last 14 games for the red-hot Brewers, who recorded their first three-game sweep of St. Louis since September 13-15, 1999. The Brewers had not swept a three-game set from the Cardinals in Milwaukee since June 16-18, 1997.

Thanks to some stellar pitching, Milwaukee had little trouble handling the Cardinals, the defending World Series champions who are mired in a season-high five-game skid and have lost 11 of their last 15 contests.

"I think that they are definitely going through a tough situation but they are the world champions for a reason," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "Once they get out on that field, they are doing everything they can to beat you. We played a pretty good series."

The Brewers won the three games by a combined margin of 23-3, shutting out the Cardinals over the final 15 innings.

"They played better than we did," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We're not playing well, we haven't played well since the season started. We've just got to improve, and I know we will."

Making just his second appearance in the last nine days, Villanueva (2-0) was terrific on relatively short notice, allowing just two hits and two walks with one strikeout. The lefthander ended the 2006 campaign as a starter but has been used sparingly this season, logging just 17 innings over 11 relief appearances.

"When I came out in the (fourth) inning, I didn't want people to think the game was over and we lost because we lost Cappy," Villanueva said. "In spring training, I was asked what do I want to do, start or come out of the bullpen. What I wanted to be was part of what's going on right now. If I'm part of a W, it feels special every time."

Villanueva demonstrated Wednesday that he is capable of a heavier workload, throwing 38-of-66 pitches for strikes. Righthander Matt Wise worked the final two innings to preserve the win.

"(Villanueva) has done that all year long," Yost said. "That's why we decided to take a young pitcher and put him on our staff. He helps us win. He came in and held down the fort and got the W for himself. It was a really big pitching performance on a day when we already knew we won the series and were going for the sweep."

The Brewers desperately needed the innings provided by Villanueva when Capuano was forced to leave the contest after being struck by a comebacker.

Capuano already had retired St. Louis' first two batters in the second inning when he was hit on the outside of his lower leg by a hard grounder off the bat of Aaron Miles. The ball ricocheted to first baseman Prince Fielder, who recorded the final out of the inning.

As Fielder made the play, Capuano limped gingerly towards the Brewers' dugout, where he was met and attended to by team medical personnel. The lefthander returned to the mound to log a scoreless third inning but was lifted for pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. in the bottom of the frame.

"I tried to fight my way to stay in there, but Ned wanted to play it safe," Capuano said. "It's just a bad bruise. It was in a one-in-a-million spot. It's in a weird spot in the back of my knee, it made the whole back of my leg lock up. It should be fine in a couple of days."

Capuano was diagnosed with a bruised right calf and is listed as day-to-day. The 28-year-old southpaw was outstanding over his first five starts this season, going 4-0 with a 3.21 ERA.

The Brewers took the lead for good in the fourth thanks to some timely hitting and some heads-up baserunning.

With runners on first and second and two outs, Corey Hart snapped a scoreless tie by blooping an RBI single off Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes (0-5). The Brewers made it 2-0 when Hart slid in safely ahead of a throw at second base, allowing Bill Hall to steal home.

"Corey made a mistake, but it worked out for us anyway," Yost said. "You have to hold your ground and not get tagged out until that runs scores. You don't try to beat the throw."

Milwaukee added two insurance runs off Reyes in the following inning when Fielder ripped a two-run single, pushing the advantage to 4-0.

"This year, everyone has confidence," Fielder said. "A sweep is good. We try to win every series. Usually two out of three is good, but when you get three out of three, it's even better."

Reyes worked six innings, surrendering four runs - three earned - and three hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Albert Pujols had three hits for the Cardinals, who fell to 0-3 since the tragic death of pitcher Josh Hancock.

"He pitched a winning game that he didn't win," La Russa said. "He really pitched well, but a lot of times this game has no justice."

"There's a lot of baseball left. It's early," Pujols added. "It's been like a roller-coaster season, but you can't get too up or down because that's part of the game."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
    MILWAUKEE 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 x 4 4 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: STL - ANTHONY REYES, RYAN FRANKLIN (7TH), TYLER JOHNSON (8TH), JASON
    ISRINGHAUSEN (8TH) AND GARY BENNETT
    MIL - CHRIS CAPUANO, CARLOS VILLANUEVA (4TH), MATT WISE
    (8

    May 2 3:39 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY PRINCE FIELDER SCORED TONY GRAFFANINO AND RICKIE
    WEEKS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, P FIELDER ON FIRST, J HARDY ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 0
    MILWAUKEE 4 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: B HALL (.247, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Cardinals vs. BrewersMay 2 2:34 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    BILL HALL STOLE HOME.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, C HART ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 0
    MILWAUKEE 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: D MILLER (.259, 0-FOR-1)

    Cardinals vs. BrewersMay 2 2:16 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY COREY HART SCORED J.J. HARDY.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C HART ON FIRST, B HALL ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 0
    MILWAUKEE 1 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: D MILLER (.259, 0-FOR-1)

    Cardinals vs. BrewersMay 2 2:14 PM