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|4:15 PM PT5:15 PM MT6:15 PM CT7:15 PM ET19:15 ET23:15 GMT7:15 4:15 PM MST6:15 PM EST6:45 PM VEN3:15 UAE (+1)6:15 PM CT, June 15, 2017
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri Attendance: 45,228
Brewers hope to get another win vs. Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- By designating former closer Neftali Feliz for assignment, the cash-conscious Milwaukee Brewers admitted that their $5.25 million offseason investment in him was a failed one.
Fortunately for them, they have a younger, cheaper and better solution. Corey Knebel leads all big league relievers in strikeouts and is a prime reason Milwaukee leads the National League Central heading into Thursday's series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Knebel registered his second four-out save Wednesday night in a 7-6 win, punctuating it with a whiff of Dexter Fowler that was his 59th in 33 1/3 innings this year. It was the 10th save for Knebel in 13 chances and he has a 1.07 ERA and a .148 opponents' batting average.
"Corey has been very reliable for us," Milwaukee first baseman Eric Thames said. "We trust him with our lives."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn't sound like he was real excited about summoning Knebel before the ninth inning, but his hand was forced. Aledmys Diaz lined a two-run homer off Jacob Barnes with two outs in the eighth that pulled St. Louis within a run as a heavy shower descended upon the ballpark.
As a 60-minute rain delay ended, Counsell opted for Knebel. A first-pitch lineout off Jose Martinez's bat meant Knebel could basically start the ninth inning fresh. Despite some command issues, Knebel allowed just a two-out hit to Matt Carpenter.
"There's always concern when you bring a guy in for four outs," Counsell said. "But Corey did a great job again. To get the first-pitch out meant he came in really clean for the ninth."
In 34 games, Knebel and his 98 mph fastball have permitted just 17 hits and four runs in 33 2/3 innings. Simply put, he's been a life-saver for a bullpen that has shouldered a heavy load for a rotation full of starters who regularly can't make it through six innings.
Thursday night's starter, right-hander Zach Davies (7-3, 4.34 ERA), owns just three quality starts in his 13 outings. But he's leading the staff in wins, thanks in part to an offense averaging nearly five runs per game.
Davies yielded four runs in five innings Friday night at Arizona, but won 8-6. He has pitched well in five career outings against the Cardinals, going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA.
Michael Wacha (3-3, 4.50) goes for St. Louis (30-34), hoping to build on his 3-2 win Friday night over Philadelphia. In his first quality start since May 19, Wacha allowed five hits and two runs in six innings, although he recorded just two strikeouts.
Wacha owns a 4-0 record against Milwaukee, with a 4.38 ERA in eight outings (seven starts). He received no decision in a May 1 start against the Brewers.
While Milwaukee (35-32) is hoping to finish its trip at 4-3, the Cardinals are shooting for a 5-2 homestand. But they might not have second baseman Kolten Wong, who left following the fifth inning Wednesday night with right forearm stiffness.
"We're going to have him really looked at closely," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Wong, who's batting .301 with a homer and 19 RBIs. "We've got to figure out what we're dealing with here."
Updated June 15, 2017