McGehee blocks Cards' sweep attempt

Friday, September 4, 2009
The Brewers' Jeff Suppan, left, congratulates Casey McGehee after Milwaukee's 4-3 win Thursday in St. Louis. (Kyle Ericson ~ Associated Press)

The rookie had three more RBIs in the Brewers' 4-3 victory.

ST. LOUIS -- Rookie Casey McGehee wasn't about to be fooled twice by John Smoltz.

After looking at a called third strike his first time up, the streaking McGehee hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Smoltz and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.

"He abused me pretty bad on breaking balls," McGehee said of his first-inning at-bat. "He finally got one up enough to where I could get a hold of it."

McGehee homered in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie, connecting right after the Cardinals failed to turn an inning-ending double play.

The shot capped off an amazing series for McGehee, who drove in nine of his team's 13 runs during the three-game set. McGehee, a Chicago Cubs castoff, was 5 for 11 at Busch Stadium with two homers in a 72-hour span.

"The three guys in front of me who are getting on base are the ones getting it done," he said. "A guy like Prince [Fielder], you don't even want to mess with, so I'm getting good pitches to hit."

McGehee is hitting .299 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs in 89 games.

"Another Casey McGehee Day," Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said.

Smoltz in command

Smoltz (1-1) turned in his third strong outing in as many starts for the Cardinals. He gave up just one run on three hits over the first five innings before the Brewers rallied.

Smoltz struck out six and did not walk a batter.

"I really made one bad pitch and it ended up costing us the game," he said. "I felt like for the most part, I was in command."

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa agreed, saying, "I thought he pitched well. You've got to give the Brewers' hitters credit."

Manny Parra settled down after a slow start and pitched into the seventh inning for Milwaukee, which has won four of six.

Trevor Hoffman closed for his 30th save, striking out Albert Pujols with a runner on base to end the game. Hoffman, the career saves leader, reached the 30 mark for the 14th time.

The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the sixth, but Craig Counsell led off with a double and took third on an infield single by Frank Catalanotto.

Smoltz struck out Ryan Braun, then got Fielder to ground into a potential inning-ending double play. But second baseman Julio Lugo juggled the ball and could only throw out Fielder as the tying run scored.

Homer No. 13

McGehee followed with a go-ahead drive just inside the left-field foul pole for his 13th homer of the season. He also drove in the Brewers' first run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Parra (10-10) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up a leadoff homer to Lugo and Ryan Ludwick's RBI single in the first before settling down, and improved to 3-1 against the NL Central leaders this season.

St. Louis loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Reliever Mitch Stetter struck out Khalil Greene looking and Claudio Vargas got Pujols to ground out on a 3-2 pitch.

Matt Holliday, who had three hits, brought the Cardinals to 4-3 with a leadoff homer in the eighth. It was his 10th with the Cardinals and 21st overall. He singled earlier in the game for his 1,000th career hit.

Pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus walked later in the eighth, but was picked off by Vargas. Hoffman worked around Lugo's one-out bunt single with one out in the ninth.


* Smoltz struck out at least one batter in each of his first 14 innings with the Cardinals. The string came to an end in the fourth inning.

* St. Louis pitcher Brad Thompson served the first game of a two-day suspension Thursday. He originally was given a three-day ban for throwing near the head of New York's David Wright, and the penalty was reduced on appeal.

* Lugo's leadoff homer, the 10th of his career, was the first by a Cardinals player since Skip Schumaker did it June 25, 2008, at Detroit.

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