MILWAUKEE – On any other pitching staff, Anthony Reyes would have earned an encore.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ top pitching prospect threw 6 1/3 innings of two-hit ball in his major league debut but didn’t have much time to celebrate his 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday because the club planned to send him back to Triple-A Memphis in the morning.
“I hope I won’t be sent down, but I know it’s going to happen,” Reyes said. “Hopefully, I showed them something where I can come back and pitch again.”
That he most certainly did, allowing just two earned runs on two hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
“He really, really pitched well,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “He did so many special things. What a lift he gave us.”
But he’ll probably have to bide his time anyway.
“If he gets another start, it will be because it’s important for this year,” La Russa said. “We’ve talked about maybe there’d be sometime in September where we need to do what we did today.”
With just one off day scheduled this month, the Cardinals purchased the contract of their top pitching prospect and gave him a spot start, pushing their other five starters back an extra day.
Reyes (1-0), a 23-year-old right-hander in only his second full season in professional baseball, was just the sixth starting pitcher for the Cardinals this season. St. Louis had been the last remaining team in the major leagues to have used only its original five starters in their rotation since opening day.
After allowing a two-run home run to Bill Hall in the second, Reyes retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced before giving way to Randy Flores with one out and nobody on in the seventh and Geoff Jenkins due up.
The only blemishes on Reyes’ night came in the second when he allowed a single to Carlos Lee before serving up Hall’s 15th home run that gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.
“He got a fastball up and a good fastball pitcher(hitter) hit it out of the park and he never backed off,” La Russa said. “He came after guys and that was probably the key to the game. He did not lose any confidence in his stuff. He kept challenging them. ... That was an important moment that he survived.”
The Brewers were thoroughly impressed.
“It’s always tough your first go-around against a guy you’ve never faced before,” Hall said. “He’s got good stuff and he proved why he’s the No. 1 pitching prospect in their organization.
“It’s amazing,” Hall added. “They just keep plugging guys in ... they just keep finding ways to win on a daily basis.”
Flores retired both batters he faced, Julian Tavarez pitched the eighth and Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 33 chances to finish the three-hitter.
Mark Grudzielanek, who drove in a career-best five runs Monday night, had a run-scoring groundout in the first and added an RBI single in the sixth, both off starter Doug Davis (9-8).
After Grudzielanek’s run-scoring single tied it at 2 in the sixth, John Rodriguez added an RBI single that scored Albert Pujols, who reached on his third walk of the night and sixth free pass in two games.
Grudzielanek made it 4-2 when he doubled and scored on Abraham Nunez’s single off Dana Eveland in the eighth. Hector Luna followed with an RBI single that made it 5-2.
Davis allowed three earned runs on six hits in six innings. He walked four, struck out seven, committed a balk and threw two wild pitches.
Brewers manager Ned Yost drew his third ejection of the season when he argued with plate umpire Angel Hernandez over a balk call on Davis in the second inning. Yost said he was still hot over a balk called on Matt Wise the night before and said the move by Davis wasn’t even close to being a balk.
“The first base umpire (Chad Fairchild) didn’t even flinch, (and he) had a better look at it,” Yost said. “It’s not a balk. Chris Capuano and Doug Davis both have worked very hard on their moves. Their moves are every bit legal. Take the time to work as hard as they do and watch the play. That’s all I ask. “We’re out there trying to win ball games and St. Louis doesn’t need any help.”