As he has done in the past, second baseman Kolten Wong accepted responsibility for a St. Louis Cardinals loss.
Wong committed two errors that led to two runs Monday as the Cardinals fell to Milwaukee 5-4 in their home opener before a record crowd of 47,875 at Busch Stadium III.
Wong bobbled Carlos Gomez’s roller between first and second to start the game, then threw wildly past first in the seventh when the Brewers scored the decisive runs.
“I take pride in defense,” Wong said. “I think this was something that has to bring me down to realize I still need to continue to work. For me, unfortunately, I’m going to take the blame on this loss because it’s probably my fault. I didn’t take care of the baseball today.”
The loss dropped the Cardinals to 3-7 in home openers at Busch Stadium III.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (1-1) pitched well enough to deserve better. He allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned) in seven innings, walked one and struck out four.
“I tip my hat to them; they had a good game plan,” Wainwright said. “The Brewers had some good swings today on some pitches that were pretty tough. They capitalized on some mistakes, and that’s what good clubs do.”
The Brewers saddled Wainwright with a loss with two seventh-inning runs that negated the two the Cardinals scored in the bottom of the inning against Jeremy Jeffress.
Scooter Gennett led off the seventh with a single to right and advanced to second on a sacrifice by pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer. Gomez followed with a double into the left-field corner that extended Milwaukee’s lead to 4-2.
Jonathan Lucroy then hit a grounder up the middle. Wong ranged to his left to make the pickup, but threw wildly past first baseman Matt Adams to enable Gomez to score to make it 5-2.
“That’s a dumb throw,” Wong said. “I was trying to do too much, trying to rush it. I didn’t have a good grip, but I just tried to throw it over there anyway, not really having that mindset of taking care of the baseball. I was trying to do too much.
“When I came up to throw it, I didn’t have a good grip. I saw I had some time and I figured if I just get it there, Matt can hopefully try and save me and make that play. But the ball I threw was a terrible ball.”
Matt Garza (1-1), whose defense let him down, too, was the winner. Garza permitted six hits and two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings, with five walks and four strikeouts.
The Cardinals were retired in order in the ninth by closer Francisco Rodriguez, who earned his first save. Rodriguez snared a smash to his glove side by Jhonny Peralta to start the ninth, then set down Jon Jay on a grounder to second and Yadier Molina on a roller to shortstop.
“I still don’t know how Rodriguez caught that ball,” Matheny said. “I was looking in the outfield for it. That’s a shame, because we would have had an opportunity to put Peter Bourjos on the bases and cause a little havoc ourselves. But he made a great play.”
St. Louis was 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base.
“We had a little bit more out there (to get), no question,” Matheny said. “We’ve had that a few games now. It’s early in the season, so I see it turning. But right now, we’re just kind of fighting to make something happen. We had some good opportunities and couldn’t capitalize on them. We couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it.”
Wong easily got to Gomez’s slowly hit ball to open the game. But he bobbled it, then mishandled it again as he tried to recover. Lucroy then walked, and Gomez went to third on Ryan Braun’s long fly to center. Gomez scored on Adam Lind’s infield out that made it 1-0.
“It’s one of those plays where it came off the bat funny,” Wong said of the miscue. “I took my eye off the ball a little too early and it got away.”
Milwaukee capitalized on a defensive lapse in the second inning by Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward, who was 1-for-5 with an eighth-inning single in his home debut.
Heyward lost his footing and was unable to flag down Jean Segura’s double in right-center that went off his glove as Milwaukee put runners at second and third with no outs. Gennett followed with a grounder to shortstop Peralta, who was playing back, that made it 2-0.
“I think I overran it a little bit,” Heyward said. “It was hit well. I usually play Segura that way, but I got to it and lost my footing, maybe after it hit off my glove.
“We lost. That’s the most important thing. We would have loved to win, but it was fun. It was fun baseball. We played a good team. Waino kept us in the game and we fought. The ballgames we’ve lost, we’ve been right there. I like the way we’re playing.”
The Cardinals got within 2-1 in the third when Matt Carpenter led off with a double, went to third on Matt Holliday’s one-out single and scored on Adams’ grounder to second.
St. Louis tied it in the fourth. Molina and Wong opened with walks before Wainwright laid down a bunt that was fielded by third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez threw to shortstop Segura for the force on Molina at third, but Segura’s throw to first to attempt a double play on Wainwright was wild, and Wong scored to make it 2-2.
Braun’s single and Lind’s double preceded an infield out by Ramirez in the sixth that put Milwaukee ahead 3-2, and Gomez’s RBI double and Wong’s error made it 5-2 in the seventh.
Holliday reached on Segura’s throwing error to start the seventh and went to second on Adams’ hit. Peralta then dropped a liner in front of right fielder Braun, who made a vain attempt at a catch before the ball got behind him for a two-run double that made it 5-4.
After taking off Tuesday, the Cardinals and Brewers resume their three-game series at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday when Lance Lynn pitches for St. Louis against Wily Peralta.
“It’s nice to get out there and play in front of your home fans for the first time, but it’s going to be nice to get into a routine, too,” Adams said.