ST. LOUIS (AP) - Marco Estrada figures that elusive first win is right around the corner.
Winless in 13 starts this season, Estrada allowed only one run over six innings Sunday night but was outpitched by Kyle Lohse in the Milwaukee Brewers' 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Estrada (0-5) gave up seven hits and left trailing 1-0 in one of his best performances of the year. The encouraging outing came on the heels of another solid effort last Monday, when Estrada yielded two runs in seven innings against Houston.
``It would be nice to have a win,' he said. ``But if I keep pitching well, things will go my way one of these days.'
Lohse pitched six spotless innings to earn his 12th win as St. Louis completed a three-game sweep. Milwaukee has lost its last nine road games, and manager Ron Roenicke thought Estrada deserved a better fate.
``He spotted his fastball well. He had great command,' Roenicke said. ``I thought he was really good.'
Estrada allowed one run and four hits through the first five innings. He wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
``I made a couple of mistakes that they hit hard,' he said. ``But overall I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball.'
Milwaukee's offense offered little support. The Brewers were outscored 17-4 during the series while going 2 for 22 with runners in scoring position.
Lohse (12-2) allowed four hits and threw 100 pitches in winning his sixth consecutive decision. He struck out six, walked three and lowered his ERA to 2.79.
``I have an idea of what I'm trying to do out there and I'm just going out and executing the game plan,' Lohse said. ``It's fun out there to throw strikes and let the defense do its work.'
Daniel Descalso had a season-high three hits for the Cardinals, who have won five of six and 12 of 16. It was their first three-game sweep at home against the Brewers since March 31 to April 3, 2003.
Lohse has recorded quality starts in 11 of his last 12 games. He has emerged as the ERA leader on a talented staff that includes Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook and All-Star Lance Lynn.
At times, Lohse's efforts have gone unnoticed, but he doesn't mind flying under the radar. He is not big on publicity.
``I don't play this game for that stuff,' he said. ``I like the fact that my teammates and my manager appreciate what I am doing.'
Lohse has gone at least six innings in his last 12 starts and this time he got plenty of help from his bullpen.
Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte shut out the Brewers on two hits over the final three innings. Motte earned his 24th save in 28 chances.
``It's a nice feeling to know that if we get to the seventh with the lead, it's going to be held,' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
The Cardinals wore 1982 powder blue replica uniforms to mark the 30th anniversary of their World Series win over Milwaukee. Back then, the Brewers were in the American League.
St. Louis has won 14 of the last 19 regular-season games between the teams. The Cardinals also beat Milwaukee in last year's NL championship series.
Descalso drove in Jon Jay with a two-strike triple off Estrada in the second inning following a one-out walk. Allen Craig pushed the lead to 2-0 with a run-scoring double in the seventh. Craig has 56 RBIs in his last 67 games.
David Freese, who had two hits, brought in Carlos Beltran with a single in the eighth. Beltran doubled off the bag at first base.
Descalso also singled in the fifth and seventh to finish 3 for 4. He struggled earlier in the year but has six hits in his last 10 at_bats to raise his average to .250. He was hitting .197 on May 11.
``I wasn't happy with the way I was playing,' Descalso said. ``I expected a lot more out of myself. I've been working hard to try and turn it around and relax up there.'
Milwaukee loaded the bases in the fourth before Lohse struck out Estrada to end the threat. The Brewers put two on in the third, but Lohse got Ryan Braun to pop out.
``We had a lot of chances with Lohse,' Roenicke said. ``He's really good, but we needed a big hit somewhere and we're just not getting that hit.'
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez went 1 for 4 in his return to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a sore left wrist.
NOTES: The Brewers had given up six or more runs in their past five road games. ... Milwaukee pitchers have a major league-best 915 strikeouts. ... The Brewers host Cincinnati in the first of a three-game set Monday. Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87).
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved