Aug 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) throws to St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Peter Bourjos (8) during the third inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Brewers Lose Matt Garza, Game At St. Louis

Matt Garza was almost unhittable on Sunday, allowing just one hit and two baserunners through six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sunday.

But after throwing just 75 pitches, Garza left with a left oblique strain after six innings and a pair of Milwaukee Brewers relievers teamed up to cough up the lead and the win on Sunday.

Left-hander Zach Duke served up a long home run to Matt Holliday with one out that cut the Brewers’ lead to 2-1, the first of five straight hits for the Cardinals in their 3-2 win on Sunday.

After Matt Adams dropped a soft single into center field, Duke was gone, replaced by right-hander Jeremy Jeffress.

Jeffress (0-1) gave up consecutive singles to Jhonny Peralta, A.J. Pierzynski and Oscar Taveras and, just like that, the lead was gone.

The outburst made a winner of John Lackey, who made his debut for the Cardinals (59-51) after being acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. Lackey gave up two runs in the first two innings before locking in, allowing just two hits over his final five innings of work.

So instead of taking two of three at St. Louis, Milwaukee (61-51) dropped the series to the Cardinals and saw their lead in the National League Central cut to a single game over the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis, pending the outcome of the Pirates’ game Sunday at Arizona.

Lackey got off to a solid start, striking out Carlos Gomez and inducing a pop-up by Jonathan Lucroy to open the game. But Ryan Braun laced a double into the right-field corner and came around to score on a single by Aramis Ramirez.

In the second, Mark Reynolds lined his 19th home run of the season into the left-field seats to put the Crew up 2-0.

Garza, meanwhile, was cruising before leaving with the injury. He hit Adams with a pitch leading off the second, got Peralta to roll into a double play and faced the minimum through four innings.

The only hit he allowed was a double by Adams leading off the fifth.

Duke was charged with two runs on two hits while recording just one out, the second straight outing in which he has been scored upon after a string of 16 straight scoreless appearances from June 22 through Wednesday.

Jeffress was charged with his first loss in the big leagues since May 18, 2011, when he was with the Kansas City Royals. He retired two batters and was charged with a run on three hits, striking out one.

Will Smith worked a perfect eighth for the Brewers.

Trevor Rosenthal worked the ninth, earning his National League-leading 34th save for the Cardinals.

Braun and Ramirez were each 2-for-4 for the Brewers, who had nine hits on the day.

Milwaukee will be off on Monday and open a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. at Miller Park. Rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 4.30 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Brewers, with right-hander Tim Lincecum (9-7, 4.21 ERA) slated to take the ball for the Giants.

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Tags: Jeremy Jeffress Matt Garza Milwaukee Brewers Zach Duke

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