ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals couldn't figure out Matt Garza all afternoon, managing just one hit in six innings against the righty.
Then, because of an injury, they didn't have to deal with him anymore.
And they made the most of it.
Garza was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh after just 71 pitches and holding the Cardinals to one hit over six innings. He was replaced because he had suffered a strained left oblique.
Almost as soon as Garza was gone, the Cardinals knocked five straight hits to take a 3-2 lead that would hold up and earn John Lackey his first Cardinal win.
The late rally gave the Cardinals two of three this weekend and propelled them to within one game of Milwaukee for the division lead.
No announcement about Garza was made during the game, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke appeared to be taking a huge risk in lifting him for Lyle Overbay with a runner on and two outs in the seventh.
Overbay singled to prolong the inning, but John Lackey got Carlos Gomez to pop up to end the threat.
Garza's injury was revealed after the game.
Roenicke replaced the brilliant Garza with soft-tossing lefty Zach Duke, whom the Cardinals immediately pounced on. With one out, Matt Holliday homered to start a streak of five straight hits that concluded with a go-ahead single off the bat of Oscar Taveras.
Holliday's homer took off like a laser and landed 442 feet away past center field to give the Cardinals their first run.
"Good hitter," manager Mike Matheny said. Same thing we've been trying to say since April .These guys are going to hit. Its not like we waved a magic wand once August started and it was gonna be here.
Matt Adams followed with a single to send Duke scampering.
Jhonny Peralta, A.J Pierzynski and Taveras then singled against Jeremy Jeffress. Pierzynski's knock found its way through the right side and scored Adams with the tying run.
Taveras muscled his into right-center to score Peralta, Taveras pumping his first as he glided to first.
All of a sudden, John Lackey was in line to win.
Lackey kept the Brewers in check after allowing single runs in the first and second innings.
The righty threw 109 pitches. Manager Mike Matheny let Lackey get himself out of the jam he created in the seventh.
This game then became a battle of the bullpens.
But Lackey did his part.
He allowed seven hits and two runs in seven full, striking out four without walking a batter along the way.
"It felt kinda like Opening Day," Lackey said. "Just a new start. You definitely want to do well in a new place, for sure."
Pat Neshek worked around a two-out single to complete a scoreless eighth inning.
Trevor Rosenthal needed 27 pitches to earn his major-league leading 34th save. He sandwiched a single and a walk between three strikeouts, eventually getting Gomez swinging to end it.
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