MILWAUKEE -- The toughest defeat amid the toughest stretch of the Brewers' season was the very least of manager Ron Roenicke's worries late on Friday night.
Twenty minutes after the final out of a 7-6 loss to the Cardinals, his voice cracking, Roenicke briefly addressed reporters.
"There's been a death in one of the families of one of our players, so I don't want to answer questions," he said. "For respect of him right now, we're not going to let anybody in the clubhouse. Sorry, but these things are tough and I just don't want to leave any players open to anything.
"I don't want to say who it is or anything, but we'll get this figured out tomorrow and we can talk then."
"Tomorrow" would come quickly, as the Brewers were to regroup at Miller Park on Saturday morning ahead of a 3 p.m. CT game against the Cardinals. Jimmy Nelson is scheduled to pitch for Milwaukee, making his second start of the season and the third start of his Major League career, opposite Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
After Roenicke returned to the clubhouse, the Brewers did not issue any further statements.
The tragedy off the field comes during a challenging two weeks on the field for the Brewers, who lost for the 10th time in 11 games when a six-run lead slipped away on Friday night. After Matt Holliday connected against Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez for a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning, the Brewers' 6 1/2-game lead in the National League Central on June 29 had been whittled to just one game over the Cardinals, with two games scheduled before the All-Star break.
Friday began with business as usual -- actually, better than usual considering the Brewers' recent offensive output. Khris Davis delivered a two-out, two-run double as the Brewers built a 3-0 lead against Cardinals starter Joe Kelly in the first inning, and Scooter Gennett hit a two-run triple in the second and scored three batters later when Ryan Braun tripled, too, extending the lead to 6-0.
That lead benefitted Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, who took the six-run advantage into the fourth inning and appeared poised to beat the Cardinals for only the second time in his career, and the first time since 2011.
Then the Cardinals started hitting home runs.
Matt Adams hit the first in the fourth inning with a booming, two-run homer to right-center field on a fastball down and in to put St. Louis on the scoreboard. Kolten Wong led off the sixth and hit a fastball down the middle to the right-field bleachers that made it 6-3. After a walk, a strikeout and a visit to the mound by Roenicke, Gallardo threw a hanging slider to Jhonny Peralta for a two-run homer to left field that made it 6-5.
Gallardo was charged with five earned runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings and remained 1-11 lifetime against St. Louis while his ERA climbed to 6.45. In 19 career starts against the Cardinals, he has surrendered 25 home runs, a dozen more than any other opponent.
"I think today was one of those days where you could just see that they were relentless in the way they were going about them," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team was not aware of the Brewers' tragedy. "It didn't' really matter who was on the mound."
After Gallardo's exit, Oscar Taveras finished the St. Louis comeback with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 6. The teams remained tied into the ninth, when Rodriguez retired the first two men he faced. Rodriguez threw a first-pitch changeup and Holliday lined it over the left field wall for the Cardinals' first lead.
"I think I said earlier in the year that I had a favorite win here, and nothing [comes] even close to this," Matheny said. "Just the heart the guys showed. Just to be able to keep coming and coming, the intensity and the grit and the fight, that to me is something you don't have every once in a while. You have it or you don't. Just really impressed, couldn't be any more proud."
Roenicke was ejected by plate umpire Mark Carlson with one out in the ninth inning for arguing a check-swing strike called on Davis. It was Roenicke's second ejection this season, each coming during the past two weeks.
Afterward, his mind was on his players.