MILWAUKEE -- Another shaky outing by Shaun Marcum, some more sloppy fielding and a tough night for Milwaukee's two biggest stars ended the Brewers' chance for a trip to the World Series they had so craved.
The Brewers were a major league-best 57-24 in their home park this season in winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers, featuring Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, led them to the franchise's only World Series. The result: a seven-game loss to the Cardinals.
A return trip nearly three decades later was in the offing and had a city riveted by the possibility.
After beating the Diamondbacks, the Brewers needed to get past the wild card Cardinals, who overcame a 10½ game deficit on Aug. 25, overtook the Braves and then eliminated the pitching-rich Phillies in the division series.
But St. Louis won twice at Miller Park, including a 12-6 clinching victory Sunday night that included six homers, three from each team. The Cards won the best-of-seven series 4-2.
The loss might have marked the final appearance in a Brewers uniform for burly first baseman Prince Fielder, who will be one of the marquee free agents after the World Series.
The 5-foot-11, 275-pound Fielder went 0 for 4 -- finishing the NLCS just 4 for 20 with a pair of homers and three RBIs. He did get the fans out of their seats with a high drive to the center field wall in the third that Jon Jay pulled down.
And when he came to the plate for perhaps his last Milwaukee at-bat in the eighth, the fans gave him a loud ovation. And he got another rousing cheer after bouncing out and returning to the dugout.
The Brewers other MVP candidate, Ryan Braun, also had a rough night, going 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.
St. Louis should be appreciative of Fielder, too. His homer helped the National League win this year's All-Star game, securing home field advantage for the Cardinals against the Texas Rangers in the World Series that begins Wednesday night.
The Brewers' trouble in the field carried over for a second straight game.
After committing four errors in a Game 5 loss, they made three in the fifth inning -- two by third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play when he couldn't handle a grounder and then made a flip with his glove that got past second baseman Rickie Weeks. The miscues led to a pair of unearned runs.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wasted no time in removing Marcum, who'd struggled down the stretch and finished 0-3 in the postseason, with two losses in the NLCS.
Marcum lasted one inning, giving up four runs, including a three-run homer to David Freese, and got the hook in favor of lefty Chris Narveson.
Entering the game, Marcum was 1-4 with a 8.18 ERA over his previous six starts dating to Sept. 9 in the regular season. But he still got the nod.
"I feel really good about this decision," Roenicke said before the game. "Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ballclub it's the right decision."
Narveson didn't exactly fool the Cardinals, either. He made it through 1 2-3 innings and gave up two more homers, solo shots to Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols.
Milwaukee, buoyed by its towel-waving home crowd, rallied behind homers from Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy, pulling within a run.
But pinch-hitter Allen Craig greeted LaTroy Hawkins with a two-run single in the third and suddenly the Cardinals were up 9-4
Marcum gave up a one-out single to Jay, walked Pujols and then yielded an RBI single to Lance Berkman to start the game.
Hawkins was already getting loose as the Cards' No. 5 hitter Matt Holliday came to the plate in the opening inning. Holliday hit a topper out in front of the plate and Marcum shoveled the ball to Lucroy who applied the tag on Pujols.
Replays showed that Pujols may have beaten the throw, but the Cardinals didn't argue. Freese hit the next pitch over the fence in left for a three-run homer and just like that the Brewers were in a 4-0 hole.
The effort was there. Hairston's headfirst slide into first on an infield single in the second inning left him shook up in the dirt. But the versatile veteran told a trainer he was OK and stayed in the game.