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Cardinals lose momentum, fumble lead vs. Milwaukee

It appeared that the St. Louis Cardinals were over their season-opening struggles and on the verge of their fifth win in a row Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

And then the wheels fell off in a new outburst of poor defense combined with a blackout of the offense.

The Redbirds were cruising early in the game with a 3-1 lead.

Matt Holliday, who is struggling to learn to play first base, was unable to turn a double play -- and maybe a second -- in the fifth inning that would have snuffed out a Milwaukee scoring opportunity. Instead, the Brewers took a 4-3 lead.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis bats, which had an outburst for three runs in the first, fell silent until Brandon Moss hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the eighth.

All seemed to be under control in the top of the ninth when Trevor Rosenthal quickly racked up two outs. But a walk followed by a home run into the right field bleachers put Milwaukee ahead for good.

If should have been a win. But it was fumbled away in an extremely uncomfortable fashion.

Starting pitcher Mike Leake had a strong early game. But he was strung out by poor defense in the middle innings that caused the majority of the damage against him. He ended up allowing eight hits and four runs through six frames.

The Cardinals managed only six hits on the night. Three of them came with two outs in the first inning.

If there is a bright side, the Birds didn’t rack up scary strikeout totals like they have early this season. They have five Wednesday night. Randal Grichuk, who was striking out in bunches, whiffed once. But he also had a clutch double in the first to drive in a pair of runs.

The Cardinals’ winning streak couldn’t last forever. But it was disturbing to see the team play so slopily against a weak Brewers club.

Hopefully, the team got the bad baseball out of its system and it can resume playing like it did against Atlanta and in the home opener.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Catcher Yadier Molina was 2-for-4 with an RBI to push his early season batting average up to .303.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Moss’ eighth inning homer.

Lowlight: Matt Holliday’s poor defense at first base.