Gagne gives up game-winner to Cards

Gagne gives up game-winner

MILWAUKEE -- Eric Gagne and Jason Kendall both made mistakes and put the burden of losing on their own shoulders.

Gagne allowed two runs in the ninth, and Kendall missed a squeeze bunt sign an inning earlier that cost the Brewers an out -- if not a run or more -- when they were poised to take a lead.

Those errors helped decide the outcome in the Brewers' 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.

Prince Fielder hit his fifth home run to help the Brewers rally from a 3-0 deficit, and Ben Sheets became the club's career strikeout leader, but the Brewers missed several chances to build on Friday's win, when they rallied in the ninth against the Cardinals' bullpen.

Ryan Ludwick lined a two-run go-ahead single with two outs in the ninth against Gagne to break a 3-3 tie.

"I'm embarrassed. I'm going to keep going out there, keep fighting, but it's embarrassing," Gagne said. "Every time we get a little momentum, I come out there and kill the rally."

Gagne (1-2) has five blown saves in 14 chances and a 6.89 ERA, not what the Brewers hoped for after he came to them over the offseason with 10 blown saves -- out of 187 opportunities -- the best career save percentage in big league history.

Manager Ned Yost has said he will stick with Gagne -- "for now" -- as the closer, despite his struggles. Gagne does not give himself the same vote of confidence.

"I don't deserve that ninth inning right now," Gagne said. "That's pretty simple."

Kendall drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and, after Fielder's home run in the next inning tied the score, had a chance to do more damage when Yost put on the squeeze with the bases loaded and one out.

Yost said he first thought Kendall, who is in his 13th season, simply was doing a good job of selling the play after Bill Hall got a big jump from third base.

"You're thinking, 'Boy, I hope Billy didn't break too early,' " Yost said. "And you see Jason and you think, 'No, he's going to break perfect,' that Jason is laying it out, laying it out. "And then, uh-oh."

Kendall never squared to bunt. Instead, he took a pitch from Russ Springer (1-0) and Hall was hung out to dry before being caught in a rundown.

"I missed the sign," Kendall said. "Completely unacceptable. It can't happen. I lost us the game right there. I missed the sign and I can't do that. I screwed up. It doesn't matter the situation, I missed the sign and that can't happen."

And yet, it happens, even with usually heady players such as Kendall.

"He doesn't miss much," Yost said. "He's a guy that you can pretty well count getting the job done in that situation."

Kendall grounded out to end the inning, and much of the sold-out crowd at Miller Park booed. The fans kept on booing for Gagne.

Brendan Ryan led off the ninth with a single, and Skip Schumaker did likewise. After Aaron Miles moved both into scoring position, Albert Pujols was walked intentionally. Rick Ankiel popped out, and Gagne was an out away from wriggling free.

Then he hung a 2-2 change-up to Ludwick, who pulled it to left.

"I get myself into a jam every single time out there," Gagne said. "You just can't pitch like that."

Ryan Braun doubled with two outs in the bottom half of the ninth but Fielder grounded to first against Ryan Franklin, who got his second save. The Cardinals have, at least temporarily, replaced usual closer Jason Isringhausen, who was on the mound for the Brewers' comeback Friday.

The Cardinals led, 1-0, in the fourth inning when Duncan -- who came in 7- for-12 with two homers in his career against Sheets -- connected on a 2-0 pitch, lining it to the grandstands just inside the right-field foul pole to score himself and Ankiel.

In the first, Sheets struck out Miles and Pujols to surpass Ted Higuera on the Brewers career strikeout list. Higuera, who played from 1985-94, had 1,081 strikeouts.

Sheets allowed three runs, nine hits and a walk over seven innings. He struck out six.

David Brown is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.