Bush off his game in loss to Cards

Early struggles sink Bush, Brewers

ST. LOUIS -- The search for answers about Dave Bush's rough outings since he returned from the disabled list is taking the righty back to the trainer's room.

Bush matched dubious career highs in allowing eight runs and 11 hits in just 3 1/3 innings, with six of the runs scoring in the second inning of the Brewers' 10-3 loss to the surging Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

"It's frustrating, because I feel closer than my results are," said Bush, who spent two months on the disabled list with a triceps injury before returning last week. "It's just not coming together for me."

Brewers manager Ken Macha was just as puzzled. He's looking to head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger for some answers.

"Roger stopped in and said he would take a look at how [Bush] is doing tomorrow," Macha said.

Casey McGehee followed a four-RBI performance in Tuesday's series opener with two more on Wednesday, but the Brewers mustered only three runs against Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter (15-3) in six innings and fell to 14 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central standings.

Carpenter improved to 9-0 against division opponents and 10-0 in his past 12 starts, but the Brewers might have missed a chance to beat the NL ERA leader when he wasn't at his best.

"Watching Carpenter out there, I don't think he was at his sharpest tonight," Macha said. "But the sign of a good pitcher is that when he's not sharp, he's able to give you innings and hold the other team down. That's what he did."

Said Carpenter of the Brewers: "These guys over here, no matter what place or what their record is, they've got a nice offensive club. These guys come to play every single night. They're no slouch. You've got to go and play well and pitch well."

Bush (3-6) surrendered six runs in the second inning and eight total runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. He allowed 11 hits, matching a career high from 2007, and remained winless since May 19 at Houston.

Bush pitched well in a pair of Minor League rehabilitation starts before returning to face the Reds last week, allowing two earned runs in those outings. He downplayed the notion that he should have remained in the Minors for a few more starts before trying to return to the big leagues.

"I'm not sure what else would have been gained by making another rehab start," Bush said. "I felt good and threw the number of pitches I wanted to throw. I was ready to come back. I'm not sure staying down there another week would have made a difference."

On Wednesday, Bush struggled from the start, as eight of the first 11 hitters he faced reached safely. Bush escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, then loaded them again in the second inning with no outs when he hit Carpenter with a pitch. Skip Schumaker followed with a two-run single, Albert Pujols added a two-run double and Matt Holliday drove in another run with a single to make it 5-0 before Bush recorded his first out.

When Bush missed, he missed big. Catcher Jason Kendall set up inside against Schumaker, but the pitch was up and away. Kendall put the glove inside again on Pujols, but the pitch drifted way out over the plate.

"I'm just struggling to put it all together, to get everything to work the right way," Bush said with a shrug. "The frustrating part is that I felt good. My aggressiveness was good. I was trying to attack the strike zone and I was not being tentative at all. They strung together so many hits in that [second] inning it really made it difficult after that."

He only escaped the inning with help from the Brewers' defense. Second baseman Felipe Lopez made a nice play on a tricky Mark DeRosa grounder to initiate a run-scoring double play, and right fielder Frank Catalanotto ranged into foul territory to catch an inning-ending popout at the edge of the seats.

"After the second inning I asked him if he was all right, and he said he was OK, wanted to go back out there," said Macha, who sent Bush back out for the third inning partly because, "I didn't want to take a setback in terms of building up his pitches."

Bush hit Brendan Ryan with a pitch to lead off the third inning, but escaped with a scoreless frame. When Bush was charged with two more runs in the fourth inning, Macha finally tapped the bullpen.

In two starts since returning from a two-month stay on the DL, Bush has allowed 13 earned runs in eight innings for a 14.63 ERA. He has allowed 14 hits and five walks in those games with five strikeouts.

Macha wavered when asked whether he would have to re-assess Bush's spot in the rotation, but hinted that the Brewers might take a look at left-hander Chris Narveson, the one-time Cardinals prospect who worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Bush on Wednesday but did allow an inherited runner to score.

"Who would we put in that spot?" Macha asked. "There had been some talk with Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's GM] that perhaps Narveson would be a guy we would want to look at down the line to start a game. If that's the assessment after the next couple of days, then [Narveson] may be a guy who goes into the rotation and gets a start." Narveson and fellow reliever Chris Smith continued a streak that Bush started. The Cardinals put their leadoff hitter on base in each of the first seven innings, a streak that finally ended in the eighth when Carlos Villanueva retired Yadier Molina on a flyout.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.