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Cardinals blow multiple chances in 3-2 loss to Brewers

The Cardinals’ Tyler Greene is tagged out by Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy for the final out of Sunday’s game in St. Louis. The Brewers won 3-2.

The Cardinals’ Tyler Greene is tagged out by Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy for the final out of Sunday’s game in St. Louis. The Brewers won 3-2. Photo by The Associated Press.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jaime Garcia failed to get a bunt down, forgot to tag up and gave up one fat pitch. The St. Louis Cardinals’ hitters shouldered their share of the blame, too, in a game that ended with a botched double steal.

The Cardinals had 11 hits but were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 runners in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, costing them a three-game sweep.

“When the opportunities knock, you’ve got to come through,” said David Freese, who struck out for the third time in the ninth inning. “I know it’s early, but they all count. It was a rough day, for sure.”

The Cardinals had two runners on base in four of Zack Greinke’s six innings, but scored just one run. Jonathan Lucroy’s two-run double capped a three-run sixth, Garcia’s only tough inning on the mound.

Garcia also bunted into a fielder’s choice in the second with a chance to put runners on second and third ahead of Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. St. Louis missed a chance to make it 2-0 in the fifth when, with one out, Garcia broke for home from third on Matt Holliday’s routine flyout to medium center, a certain sacrifice fly if he’d have tagged up, and ended up stranded at third.

With two men on and left-handed hitting Travis Ishikawa on deck in the sixth, instead of pitching around Lucroy, Garcia left a pitch up that Lucroy drove off the left-field wall.

“In the major leagues, when you do that it’s going to cost you a game,” Garcia said.

Greinke (3-1) allowed a run on seven hits to help stop the Brewers’ six-game road losing streak. He’s 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in four career games in St. Louis. He pitched a lot better than in his only other road start this year, when he surrendered eight runs in 3 2-3 innings at Chicago on April 12.

Garcia (2-1) fell to 17-10 at home with a 2.38 ERA and all three of his shutouts. He’s 12-7 with 4.15 ERA on the road.

John Axford escaped an eventful ninth for his fifth save in five chances and 48th in a row, breaking a tie with Brad Lidge for the fourth-longest string in major league history.

The Cardinals had men on first and third with none out before Axford struck out Freese on a full count. The runners then got hung up on Yadier Molina’s strikeout, with Tyler Greene an easy out at the plate.

“I’ll just say that the play didn’t go as planned,” manager Mike Matheny said.

Asked how it should have gone, he answered, “Different.”

The Brewers took the lead with a four-hit, three-run sixth. Aramis Ramirez had an RBI single to tie it and Lucroy, who had been 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position on the year, made it a two-run cushion.

Matheny showed faith in Garcia when he pulled back a pinch hitter with two outs and one on in the sixth, and Garcia singled for the second straight at-bat. Rafael Furcal flied out to end the threat.

Garcia had a season-high six strikeouts in seven innings, his third straight start of seven innings or more.

Kameron Loe got Molina, who had been 7-for-11 in the series, with two on to end the seventh. The Cardinals cut the gap to a run when Matt Carpenter doubled off Francisco Rodriguez to start the eighth and scored on pinch hitter Daniel Descalso’s groundout.

Notes: Before the game, there was a moment of silence for those injured in a violent storm at a bar near Busch Stadium shortly after the end of Saturday’s game. There was one confirmed death. ... Milwaukee LHP Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17) starts Today in the opener of a three-game series at San Diego, opposing RHP Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76). The Cardinals are off today before starting a three-game series at home against the Pirates. ... Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool and the Gang, in town for a concert with Van Halen, threw out a first pitch. ... Attendance of 45,824 was the fourth sellout in nine home games. ... Molina is 0-for-9 against Loe. ... The Brewers have won 51 in a row when leading in the ninth. ... Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32) will try to build on his first strong outing of the year Tuesday when the Cardinals and Pirates begin a three-game series. Wainwright allowed one run in six innings his last start against the Cubs.

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