ST. LOUIS — John Lackey was as advertised, and the St. Louis Cardinals rewarded their new pitcher with a late rally.
"It worked out good, got a win," Lackey said Sunday after the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2. "You obviously want to do well in a new place, for sure.
"It's a great baseball town, and the atmosphere was awesome."
Rookie Oscar Taveras got the go-ahead hit for the Cardinals, who took two of three from NL Central-leading Milwaukee and pulled within one game of the division lead.
St. Louis acquired Lackey in a trade deadline deal with Boston on Thursday, capitalizing on the sell-off by the slumping Red Sox. He won the clinching Game 6 of the World Series against the Cardinals last fall and arrived with the reputation of a big-game pitcher.
Manager Mike Matheny deferred to the 6-foot-6 right-hander in his final inning, leaving him in the game after pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay singled for the Brewers' second straight hit, raising his career average to .364 against Lackey.
After Matheny and the entire infield huddled at the mound, Lackey got Carlos Gomez on a popout.
Matheny said he went to the mound "open-minded" but wanted to make sure Lackey still felt strong in the 87-degree heat.
"He wanted the ball, and I wanted him to have the ball," the manager added. "We're going to need him to be one of our horses, and he's going to thrive on situations like that."
The 35-year-old Lackey (1-0) allowed two runs and seven hits. He went 11-7 with Boston this year.
"That's the same old Lackey," said the Brewers' Mark Reynolds, who hit his 19th homer in the second. "We just couldn't get the big hit."
Lackey got big cheers when he walked to the dugout after warming up and again when he left the mound after the seventh.
"It wasn't a huge deal, honestly, as far as butterflies," Lackey said. "Maybe kind of like maybe opening day or something like that. I started locating some balls better as the game went on."
Trevor Rosenthal struck out Gomez with two on for his major league-leading 34th save in 38 chances.
Milwaukee starter Matt Garza was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing one hit in six innings, a curious move at the time given there was no immediate medical update. After the game, manager Ron Roenicke said Garza had "tweaked a left oblique," and the team believed the injury is minor.
"It was bad enough where I had to take myself out of the game, and I don't do that," Garza said. "I could have kept going and could have made it worse, and I could have been out probably the rest of the year."
Matt Holliday homered off Zach Duke with one out in the seventh. Recently acquired A.J. Pierzynski hit a tying single off Jeremy Jeffress (0-1), and Taveras, the everyday starter in right field since Allen Craig was traded to Boston, singled up the middle.
"When he gets in those big spots, I don't think it rattles him," Matheny said.
Aramis Ramirez added an RBI single in the first for Milwaukee, his seventh hit of the series.
Garza needed just 38 pitches and faced the minimum the first four innings. He went to a full count for the first time against Matt Adams, who doubled leading off the fifth.