MILWAUKEE -- Edwin Jackson, regarded as a powerful pitcher as well as a quality teammate, got to show off the first of those attributes in his Cardinals debut five days ago. On Wednesday, he displayed the latter. Jackson took one for the team, absorbing seven innings of pounding from the Brewers in a 10-5 Cardinals loss at Miller Park.
Jackson surrendered four home runs, a career high, three of them to Casey McGehee. He equaled career highs in runs allowed with 10 and hits allowed with 14, and the eight earned runs against him were the second most he's been charged with. The last Cardinals pitcher to permit four homers in a game was Jason Marquis in 2006.
In short, the recently acquired Jackson paid for the sins of the night before. A short start by Jaime Garcia combined with extra innings in Tuesday night's win left the St. Louis bullpen somewhat short, meaning that Jackson had to take the brunt of the Brewers' outburst.
"He needed to get as deep into his allotment today as he could," manager Tony La Russa said. "He took it for us, and we appreciate it."
Jackson, so impressive in his first start with St. Louis, wasn't all that sharp from the beginning on Wednesday. He gave up a leadoff home run to Corey Hart after being handed a 1-0 lead. Ryan Braun doubled and Prince Fielder lined out, and with two outs, McGehee drilled his first home run, a two-run shot to right.
A tone had most assuredly been set. Jackson's fastball wasn't getting down in the zone as much as it needed to, so catcher Yadier Molina began calling more and more sliders. It didn't help, as Jackson just never got sorted out.
Still, in sticking it out, he won points with his new teammates.
"Whatever happened with the results, I'm impressed with what he did over there on the mound," Molina said. "Throwing seven innings, I know the result wasn't there, but I'm impressed. The guy gave everything he's got. I take my hat off."
The Cardinals briefly regained the lead on Rafael Furcal's first homer with the Cardinals, a three-run blast in the second inning, but it was short-lived. In the third, Milwaukee moved back ahead to stay -- thanks again to McGehee. He poked a two-run homer to left for a 5-4 Brewers advantage.
Jackson's ball had most of its usual life, but he simply wasn't locating his pitches well. Whether the ball was too far up or over too much of the plate, Jackson had trouble putting it where he needed to.
"I've seen Edwin both where we couldn't touch him," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, "and then I've seen him where you get to him. And I don't know what the reasons are, because it seems like he always has good stuff. ... It's got to be command. It's got to be that, all of a sudden, he's throwing a lot of balls down the good part of the plate when he gets hit."
The Brewers stretched their lead in the fifth on an RBI groundout and a passed ball, and a Molina throwing error helped a two-run sixth develop. Molina acknowledged he had far from his best day, though he denied that the possibility of a suspension from Major League Baseball factored into it.
"Obviously it was a bad game for me, personally," he said. "But it wasn't that bad when it started. I was feeling good. The thing wasn't going right for me. It's part of the game. This is baseball. Too bad it happened here."
Still, lots of things could have gone better for the Cardinals and it might not have mattered. With Jackson not quite right and limited relief options, their odds were long.
Jackson hit for himself with two on and no one out in the sixth, then came out for the seventh and surrendered another homer to McGehee. The third baseman jumped on an 0-1 fastball and hit it to straightaway center for a solo homer, finishing off his big day.
Unofficially, according to BaseballReference.com, the last time an opponent hit three home runs off of the same Cardinals pitcher in a game was more than 41 years ago. Johnny Bench took Steve Carlton deep three times at Riverfront Stadium on July 26, 1970.
"Some up, some over the plate, a little bit of everything," Jackson said. "Then when you do make a good pitch, it still finds a hole. Just one of those things where anything that could go their way did. [McGehee] hit some pitches that I thought were pretty good, he hit some that weren't. It's just one of those days."
The Cardinals fell back to 3 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central. The two clubs still meet nine more times in 2011, including three games next week at Busch Stadium.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.