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MIL@STL: Aramis cuts into the lead with a solo homer

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers' road trip is not off to a good start.

Milwaukee got home runs from Aramis Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez but couldn't keep up with the Cardinals, who tagged starter Marco Estrada for five runs in six innings in a 7-3 loss on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

"We're not playing good baseball, but they are doing everything right," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of the Cardinals. "Every time they do something it works out, and it's hard to stop that. So we've got to be better at what we do and don't give them the opportunity to be in a position where when we make a mistake it does hurt us."

The Brewers have now lost three consecutive games, six straight road games and suffered their second series defeat of the season against St. Louis. Milwaukee has lost four of seven series.

"We're not playing good baseball," Roenicke said. "We were fortunate at home. I thought we put together a couple decent series, but we're still not clicking. We're still not getting the good pitching that we usually get along with that offense. We'll get it together where everything is going to click right and then we'll be the team that we should be."

St. Louis, which scored seven runs on 10 hits, improved to 14-7.

"They have a good lineup," Ramirez said. "It seems like every time somebody made a mistake they made them pay for it. You can't afford to make that many mistakes against a good lineup."

The Cardinals scored twice in the third inning. Kyle Lohse drew a one-out walk and Rafael Furcal reached on an error by Mat Gamel. The next batter, Jon Jay, hit an RBI single to right field. Furcal scored on a fielder's choice by Matt Holliday, who was able to beat out the throw to first.

Ramirez got Milwaukee on the scoreboard with a solo home run to center field, his second of the season, in the fourth inning.

David Freese answered with a solo home run to center field to lead off the bottom of the inning and make the score 3-1.

The Brewers battled back against Lohse. Alex Gonzalez hit a solo home run to center field in the fifth, his fourth of the year, then George Kottaras drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the sixth to tie the score, 3-3.

Roenicke opted to let Estrada hit with the bases loaded and two outs instead of going with a pinch-hitter because of the team's depleted bullpen and the pitcher's pitch count at that time. But Lohse struck out Estrada on three pitches to end the threat.

"It definitely helped my situation," said Lohse, who allowed three runs on six hits over six innings to improve to 4-0. "I was struggling with my command, and I was able to make three good pitches to get out of it."

The Cardinals struck for two more runs in the sixth off Estrada on a two-run home run by Yadier Molina, his fourth, to make it 5-3. Molina finished the day with four hits, including three singles.

"He got against Yadier who was hot and is a very smart player," Roenicke said of Estrada. "[Molina] knows what to look for and he doesn't miss it. [Estrada] threw him three pitches and he gave up two base hits and a home run. That's not easy to do. That hurt him. A couple walks hurt him. I thought he threw the ball well. He located his fastball well, did a good job with his off-speed and gave us the innings to keep us in the ballgame."

Estrada, a 28-year-old right-hander, allowed one run on two hits and struck out nine against the Rockies in his first start of the season. But his second start didn't go nearly as well. He allowed five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits over six innings. He struck out two and walked two.

"I felt pretty good," Estrada said. "I felt like I threw a lot of strikes. The defense was amazing. They are a good hitting team. They capitalized on whatever mistakes I made. Freese hit that home run on a bad changeup. With Molina it was supposed to go down and away on that curveball and I left it in and he barreled it. That's what good hitting teams do. You have to minimize your mistakes."

Skip Schumaker added a two-run double in the eighth inning off reliever Jose Veras to make it 7-3.

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