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Cardinals bullpen pitches in for win

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the NLCS, thanks to a strong effort from the Cardinals bullpen and four costly errors by the Brewers defense.

Jaime Garcia allowed four hits and no runs in his first four innings, but couldn’t make it through the fifth when he gave up three singles and a run scored with two outs.

For that near-winning effort, Garcia became the first starting pitcher in postseason history to pitch 4⅔ innings, allow one run or fewer and be in position for a win, but be pulled from the game.

Cardinals Pitching
NLCS vs Brewers

With the early hook of Garcia by Tony LaRussa, no Cardinals starter has gotten an out in the sixth inning in the NLCS. If the Cardinals are able to win the series, it would be a historic event given the failure of their starting rotation to go deep into games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has won a postseason series in which its starters did not pitch more than five innings in any of the first five games.

The Brewers, who had not committed four errors in any game since May 2008, became the third team to have four errors in a NLCS game. The other teams were the 1974 Dodgers vs Pirates (5 errors) and the 2001 Braves vs Diamondbacks (4 errors).

Zack Greinke was the on the mound for three of the four errors, which led to three unearned runs and five runs total in 5⅔ innings. During the regular season, he allowed just nine unearned runs, but seven of them came in his 13 road starts.

Worst Single Postseason ERA
Won Cy Young, MLB History

Greinke’s ERA rose to 6.48 in this postseason following the game. If he doesn’t pitch again, he’ll own the second-highest ERA in a single postseason (min. 15 IP) by a pitcher that had previously won the Cy Young Award, according to Elias.

The series now shifts to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Sunday. Brewers fans, however, have a reason to be optimistic despite their team being down 3-2 in the series.

Milwaukee is 5-1 in postseason elimination games at home, which is tied for the second-best record in such games in the Divisional Era (min. 3 games), according to Elias.

Cardinals fans can’t stock the refrigerator with celebratory beverages yet, although they need one win to reach the World Series. The Redbirds have lost their last four Game 6’s on the road dating back to the 1985 World Series. The only team to match that streak is the Giants franchise from 1929 to 2002.