"You take a six-run lead in the first two innings and can't hold it down, that makes it frustrating when it falls apart like it did," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Carlos Lee hit a first-inning three-run home run, and the Brewers tacked on three more in the second inning against Cardinals starter Mark Mulder for a quick 6-0 lead. But the Cardinals answered with two runs in the third inning, six in the fourth and two more in the fifth to snap a three-game losing streak.
After the game, De La Rosa was placed on the 15-day disabled list with blisters on his left middle finger that the team and the pitcher said contributed to another bad outing. Since joining the rotation on May 30, De La Rosa is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA.
The Brewers called up right-hander Carlos Villanueva from Double-A Huntsville, one of eight pitchers they have summoned from the Minors since the start of the year. Villanueva immediately became an option to take De La Rosa's slot in the rotation on Wednesday at Cincinnati.
"Somebody's got to take it," Yost said.
Fielding a lineup without injured stars Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, St. Louis started its comeback in the third inning against De La Rosa, who was charged with five earned runs in three-plus innings on five hits and four walks, three of which came in succession leading off the fourth.
"De La Rosa obviously was hurting," said third baseman Jeff Cirillo, who hit one of three RBI singles for the Brewers in the second inning. "It's such a fine line for a player between, 'It hurts, but I'm going to go back out there,' and, 'It hurts, and I can't go back out there.' You can't win in that situation."
It was a stunning turnaround for De La Rosa, who struck out the side in the first inning and needed just 10 pitches to get through the second.
Yost did not believe the blisters -- which are in the same area as a cracked fingernail that bothered De La Rosa in his two previous starts -- did not pop up until the fourth inning. But De La Rosa said after the game that he first noticed them while warming up in the bullpen, and said, through bullpen coach and translator Billy Castro, that "blood started shooting out of there" in the second inning.
Television closeups showed blood on De La Rosa's uniform pants.
"He wasn't saying anything when we went out to check [in the fourth inning]," Yost said. "I just noticed he kept looking at it. When I went out there, I could see that it was cracked open and I asked him if he felt it, and he said, 'It's not bothering me a bit.'"
Yost believed the results showed otherwise and turned to Winkelsas (0-1) with the Brewers still holding a 6-2 lead. Yost called on Winkelas because the Brewers' usual long man, Jeremi Gonzalez, had a cortisone shot in his right shoulder for a bout of tendinitis and is unavailable to pitch until Sunday at the earliest.
Winkelsas surrendered an RBI single, walked in a run and recorded a run-scoring groundout, all charged to De La Rosa. He then gave up a three-run double to Scott Speizio, who had lost 11 pounds over the last week because of an upper respiratory infection and promptly left the game when the inning finally came to a close.
In all, the Cardinals sent 10 men to the plate in the inning and scored six runs on just two hits.
"There's no excuse," said Winkelsas, who has inherited 11 runners this season and allowed seven to score, including six in his last two outings. "You have to pitch to get it done. Winners make commitments, losers make excuses. The bottom line is that we're the same team that was winning back in the day."
Josh Hancock (2-2) got it done in for St. Louis, pitching two innings in relief of Mulder, who lasted just three. Jason Isringhausen extinguished a Brewers rally in the eighth inning, in which the tying run came to the plate, and worked the ninth for his 19th save.
After banging out five hits in the first two innings, the Brewers mustered just two singles the rest of the way.
While the Brewers continue to try to stabilize the starting rotation, they may also be facing a decision on De La Rosa. In two and a half seasons since the team acquired him from Arizona, De La Rosa has a 6.23 ERA in 61 games and is 0-5 in eight starts.
"I like starting better," De La Rosa said. "Too bad about the problem with the blister. I started to feel comfortable. ... I feel bad, because I felt like I was throwing the ball good. We were ahead, and that's one you've got to win."