ST. LOUIS -- One team was destined to leave Busch Stadium on Monday night with a very tough loss.
Despite running out of healthy players and falling behind one of the best young pitchers in the game by three runs, the Milwaukee Brewers made sure they weren't that team.
In what had to be the most satisfying victory of what already has been a surprising first month of the season, the Brewers pulled out a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in 12 innings at Busch Stadium.
Only injured players Ryan Braun and Jean Segura were left on the Milwaukee bench by game's end and every reliever in the bullpen other than seldom-used Wei-Chung Wang saw action. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (bruised elbow) joined the casualty list before the night was done, but the Brewers still found a way to prevail.
A 3-3 deadlock that stood since the seventh inning finally was broken in the 12th when Khris Davis, who had struck out four times, tripled in the go-ahead run off right-hander Seth Maness and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mark Reynolds. But nothing came easy on this night and Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez had to strand two runners to record his 12th save in 12 chances.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo entered the game with a horrendous career record (1-11, 6.46 earned run average) against the Cardinals but held his own this time. Gallardo went six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs with one walk and two strikeouts.
When Gallardo departed, St. Louis right-hander Michael Wacha seemingly was in command with a 3-0 lead, but the Brewers rallied for three runs in the seventh to tie it. After that, the two bullpens took over and the game lapsed into tense extra innings.
It didn't take long for the Cardinals to resume hostilities against Gallardo. Matt Carpenter led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to left-center, moved up on Jon Jay's fly to deep center and scored when Matt Holliday ripped a single off the glove of diving first baseman Reynolds.
Gallardo worked around two-out singles in the fourth by Yadier Molina and Allen Craig by getting Jhonny Peralta to ground into a force at third. And he escaped the fifth unscathed thanks to a pickoff at first base and a nice diving play by shortstop Jeff Bianchi to record an inning-ending force at second base.
Double plays took the Brewers out the third and fourth innings, and Reynolds was stranded at second base in the fifth when Elian Herrera took a called strike on a 3-2 fastball at the knees. But the Brewers' biggest chance to score off Wacha slipped away in the sixth inning.
Gallardo led off with an infield single that the Cardinals challenged on replay and lost after a close play at first base. Carlos Gomez then was hit by a pitch, putting two on with no outs.
After Gallardo nearly was picked off second base by Molina when Scooter Gennett whiffed on a bunt attempt, the Brewers took off the bunt and Gennett popped out to second. After Jonathan Lucroy flied out to center, Wacha plunked Ramirez with an inside fastball to load the bases.
Wacha stopped it there by striking out Davis on three pitches, the third consecutive time that Davis went down swinging.
The Brewers finally broke through in the seventh to send Wacha from the game and tie the score. Pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay and Gennett delivered RBI singles, and Wacha departed with the bases full and one out.
Side-armer Pat Neshek came in and struck out Lucroy but plunked Ramirez with a pitch to force in the tying run. Unfortunately for the Brewers, Ramirez suffered a bruised left elbow and had to leave the game.
Backup catcher Martin Maldonado went in to play first base, with Reynolds moving over to third. After Rickie Weeks flied out to center in the eighth as a pinch hitter, the Brewers were out of healthy bench players.
Because the Brewers apparently switched Overbay out of the game for reliever Tyler Thornburg before Ramirez told them he couldn't go any further, Maldonado ended up playing first and making an error that kept alive the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.
Reliever Brandon Kintzler recovered to escape that jam and put the game into extra innings.
The Cardinals threatened against left-hander Zach Duke in the 10th when Holliday led off with a double. Reynolds charged in from third, however, to field Peter Bourjos' bunt and cut down the lead runner, and Duke eventually worked out of it by stranding two runners.
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