MILWAUKEE — Christian Yelich had no idea what to expect from Cardinals hard-throwing prospect Ryan Helsley. It took him six pitches to figure it out.
Yelich welcomed Helsley to the big leagues with a three-run homer, his eighth against St. Louis this season, to help send the Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-4 victory on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
“I kind of got lucky,” Yelich said. “I got deep enough in the at-bat where I kind of saw some pitches and had a decent idea of what his stuff was like. But, yeah, he had great stuff, he did a good job after that. Just one of those things.”
Lorenzo Cain and Yasmani Grandal each homered in a five-run third against Jack Flaherty (1-1), when the Brewers went up 5-0.
Yelich, who homered three times on Monday, was the first batter faced by Helsley, who debuted with two on and two outs in the fifth. Yelich fell behind 0-2, evened the count and then fouled off a 98 mph fastball before sending the next pitch 427 feet to right center for his ninth home run, putting Milwaukee up 8-0.
“I didn’t try to think too much about it,” Helsley said of facing the reigning MVP. “I just wanted to go right at him and attack from the start. I feel like I did that. I hung one pitch and he took advantage of it.”
Yelich is the first player to homer in six consecutive games against the Cardinals, and eight of his nine home runs this season have come against St. Louis pitching. The Brewers have won nine of their last 10 against St. Louis, including four in a row.
“I don’t want to disrespect the rest of their lineup. Cain did damage. (Mike Moustakas) has had a good series,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “They are a very capable club. I don’t want to misrepresent that at all. You look at it in a holistic manner, and you remove Yelich, numbers are a lot more favorable. The reality is we can’t do that. We got to be able to figure out a better solution. I keep saying that and we’ve got to do it.”
Brandon Woodruff (2-1) held the Cardinals scoreless until Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer with one out in the sixth. Woodruff allowed two runs on seven hits in 5⅔ innings, striking out six.
“I thought his stuff was really good tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Slider was good to righties, his change was good to lefties. His fastball was obviously located very well.”
The Cardinals added two in the eighth on RBI singles by Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong.
Cain opened the third inning with his second homer. Ryan Braun doubled under the glove of third baseman Matt Carpenter with one out. After Moustakas struck out, Grandal followed with his fifth homer, a two-run shot to right.
The Brewers loaded the bases on singles by Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar and a walk to Orlando Arcia. Woodruff then laced a two-run double over the bag at first, his fifth hit in his first six at-bats this season.
“That huge 5-spot, it’s good to kind of settle in and then have another fairly quick inning and put a zero up after that,” Woodruff said. “That’s huge for the team and kind of knocks the momentum out of them.”
Although he struck out in is final at-bat, Woodruff is 5 for 7 on the season, hitting .714 with two doubles. Brewers pitchers are batting .367 (11 for 30) and lead the majors in hits by pitchers.
"Any time you get to run the bases, that means something good is happening," Woodruff said. "Hopefully, we get to do it a lot more."
Flaherty was tagged for five runs on nine hits and needed 75 pitches to get though 2⅔ innings.
Peralta out, Jeffress in
Right-hander Freddy Peralta (right shoulder sprain) was placed on the 10-day injured list. Peralta started Monday and gave up three runs on four hits with three walks in 3⅓ innings.
“He was having some pain last night during the game, so there’s some inflammation in there that we had to calm down,” Counsell said. “Don’t expect it to be long term. It should definitely be on the shorter end here. So he’ll rest for a couple days and then he should be able to start throwing pretty soon.”
The move was one of four Milwaukee made to its pitching staff. As expected, Jeremy Jeffress was reinstated from the 10-day IL. Meanwhile, the Brewers recalled Aaron Wilkerson from Class AAA San Antonio and optioned Jake Petricka to Class A Wisconsin.
Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (0-0, 5.28) starts the series finale at Miller Park on Wednesday afternoon. He allowed seven runs on eight hits, including three homers, in 3 2/3 innings in his last start. Wacha is 5-0 in 12 career games against the Brewers, including 11 starts.
The Brewers will go with right-hander Corbin Burnes (0-1, 10.05), who has allowed three home runs in each of his first three starts in a total of 14 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .339 against him, although the Brewers are 2-1 in his starts.