MILWAUKEE -- Move over, Harvey's Wallbangers. Milwaukee has a new slugging crew.
The Brewers padded their Major League-leading home run tally by launching three more on Thursday, when Travis Shaw, Eric Thames and Jett Bandy each went deep with runners on base to account for all of Milwaukee's runs in a 7-5 win over the Cardinals at Miller Park.
"I was joking about us being the new Wallbangers," said Thames, MLB's early leader with eight home runs. "This team can hit, man."
In Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez's third straight shaky start, Shaw hit a 458-foot three-run homer in the first inning, and Thames hit a two-run shot in the fifth to reclaim the lead. Bandy added insurance against reliever Kevin Siegrist in the sixth with a two-run homer that gave the Brewers a big league-best 32 dingers in their first 17 games.
Thames has hit all eight of his home runs in the last eight days, and Bandy and Shaw have each homered in three straight games. The Brewers set a franchise record by hitting multiple home runs in a sixth straight game.
"I thought i was going to make some ground up on [Thames] tonight," said Shaw, who has five home runs, "but then, of course, he has to go deep, too. We just try to feed off each other. You just try to keep up."
They did it Thursday against a pitcher, Martinez, who entered the night with a 1.36 ERA in 19 appearances against Milwaukee. Eight of those were starts, and only once had Martinez surrendered more than two earned runs, but he was slapped with five in five innings on Thursday. He has allowed 12 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
"I really feel it was better than my last outing," Martinez said through a translator. "I'm not really sure what is going on. I'm just trying to find my rhythm and get my mechanics down right. I'm trying to get better every day."
The Cardinals did get positive contributions from two hitters off to slow starts. Kolten Wong hit a bases-clearing triple in the second inning to tie the game at 3, and Matt Carpenter briefly gave St. Louis the lead in the fifth with a solo homer off Brewers starter Zach Davies, whose own struggles continued with four earned runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Jedd Gyorko also homered in the eighth for the Cardinals.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED All square: Just as quickly as Shaw's laser-beam home run gave the Brewers a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Davies gave it up, and suddenly the Cardinals were back in the ballgame. Their first four batters reached safely in the second inning, including Randal Grichuk on a walk that loaded the bases for Wong, who entered the night with a .171/.275/.314 slash line but smacked a tying triple. The Cardinals missed a chance for more, as Martinez grounded out and Dexter Fowler and Aledmys Diaz struck out to strand the go-ahead runner at third base.
"That was a huge triple," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It was a shame we left him standing on third. That was a great opportunity to get that last run in. It is those little things that we've talked about -- how we've got to get those right. We have to figure out a way to get him in."
Welcome home: Thames left Miller Park after the Brewers' opening homestand with one home run and returned with seven, tops in MLB. He reintroduced himself to the hometown crowd in a fifth inning that featured two big swings -- first Carpenter's go-ahead solo shot in the top of the frame, then Thames' go-ahead, two-run shot off an 0-1 fastball from Martinez. Thames matched a franchise record set by Rob Deer in 1987 and matched by Carlos Lee in 2006 by hitting eight home runs in the team's first 17 games.
"He doesn't quite have the stuff he's accustomed to dealing with. I know that's frustrating for him. We're trying to help him get there and give him opportunities to go out and pitch to try and figure it out." -- Matheny, on Siegrist, who actually lowered his ERA to 9.95 after allowing two runs in an inning of work Thursday
HOLDING IT TOGETHER
The Brewers' usual late-inning bullpen combination of Jacob Barnes, Corey Knebel and Neftali Feliz has given manager Craig Counsell a reliable formula so far this season, but Wednesday's loss to the Cubs took a toll. With Knebel (30 pitches on Wednesday) and Feliz (33) down for the day, Counsell used newcomer Oliver Drake, Jhan Marinez, Carlos Torres and Barnes to cover the final 3 2/3 innings of a tight game, and they combined to surrender only one run on Gyorko's homer off Marinez in the eighth. Barnes, coming off a 20-pitch, three-strikeout inning the day before, notched his second career save.
"Oliver Drake was probably the key to the night, really," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I thought Oliver's four outs were really huge outs."
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals Up Next:Adam Wainwright will look to pass Dizzy Dean for sixth place all-time in wins in Cardinals history (135) when he faces the Brewers on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander has allowed double-digit hits in consecutive games for the first time in his career, but he is 14-8 with a 2.16 ERA lifetime against Milwaukee.
Brewers Up Next:Wily Peralta has held opponents to a .196 average (11-for-56) entering his Friday night start against the Cardinals at Miller Park. St. Louis has been a tough matchup for Peralta, who is 4-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 16 career starts against the Cardinals, including 0-7 with a 4.85 ERA in his last nine starts.