Aaron Wilkerson took a perfect game into the sixth inning, Brett Phillips hit a three-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers closed out their near-miss of a season with a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS — The Milwaukee Brewers' season is over, but they took some satisfaction from challenging the Cubs in the NL Central and staying in contention until the final weekend.
For the Cardinals, 2017 fell short of the franchise's always lofty expectations.
Aaron Wilkerson took a perfect game into the sixth inning, Brett Phillips hit a three-run homer and the Brewers beat St. Louis 6-1 on Sunday, closing out their near-miss of a season with the best record of any team that did not make the playoffs.
Jesus Aguliar added a two-run homer in the eighth for the Brewers, who finished 86-76, 13 games ahead of last year's pace. They were in first place or tied for the top spot in the NL Central for 65 days, but ultimately they were eliminated from wild-card contention with a loss on Saturday.
"It's still a season that we're proud of," shortstop Eric Sogard said. "We'll keep our heads held high and we'll be excited about the future for this team."
St. Louis finished 83-79, three games worse than last year. The Cardinals failed to make the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 2007-2008.
"No matter what happens, if you don't make the (playoffs) it's not a good year," said catcher Yadier Molina, who missed the last six games with concussion-like symptoms.
Herman Perez had hoped to make a different kind of history in the meaningless game by playing all nine positions, just as Andrew Romine did Saturday night for the Tigers, but manager Craig Counsell nixed the idea after a couple innings.
"I rained on the parade," Counsell said. "I wanted to win the game."
Perez, known for his utility skills, started the game at third base and moved to shortstop for the second. That's when Counsell stepped in.
"I respected his decision," Perez said. "Maybe I can do it another time."
Perez, who was hoping to become the sixth player in major league history to play every position in a game, would have had a tough time bouncing Wilkerson (1-0) off the mound.
Making his second start of the season, Wilkerson allowed one run on two hits over seven innings. He set down the first 17 hitters before Jose Martinez delivered a pinch-hit single to right with two out in the sixth.
"I just stuck with the game plan," Wilkerson said. "To have a start like this at the end of the season bodes well going into spring training."
Counsell was impressed with the rookie.
"The big thing was he just pounded the strike zone," Counsell said. "He threw a ton of strikes. He was very efficient."
Phillips, a September call-up, highlighted a four-run first inning with his fourth homer of the season.
"He's a player that's made us maybe change the way we think about things this offseason." Counsell said.
Randal Grichuk homered in the seventh for the Cardinals, who lost four of their last five.
"There are a lot of positives," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "And there are things we've got to get better at."
Jack Flaherty (0-2) gave up five hits and four runs over five innings.
The Cardinals drew 3,447,937 fans, the fifth-highest attendance in franchise history. It was their 14th successive season of 3 million-plus.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday. The recovery time is six weeks, and he expects to be healthy in time for next season. ...3B Aledmys Diaz left in the second inning with a hamstring issue.
Brewers: Milwaukee opens the 2018 season on March 29 against the Padres in San Diego.
Cardinals: St. Louis' next game will be March 29 on the road against the Mets.
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