MLB Insiders - Milwaukee Brewers
Tony Armas
Tony Armas

Posted Aug 31, 2007


The Pirates open a three game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night at Miller Park.

The Brewers hope to avoid falling two games under .500 for the first time all season when they give the ball to Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 4.86 ERA) on Friday night.

The rookie right-hander pitched six scoreless innings to beat Arizona on Aug. 20, but followed that start by allowing five runs in three innings of a 6-2 loss at San Francisco on Saturday. He's 1-3 over his last four outings, getting tagged for 23 runs and 28 hits over 11 1-3 innings in the three defeats.

Gallardo is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA at home, walking nine and striking out 33 in 36 1-3 innings.

He lost in relief in his only career appearance against Pittsburgh, allowing four runs in 2 2-3 innings in a 6-2 loss on July 3.

Pittsburgh's Tony Armas (2-4, 6.93) goes to the mound looking to remain unbeaten versus the Brewers. He's faced them four times and gone 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 22 in 24 innings. Armas, though, was not too impressive in his only outing against them this year, allowing four runs - three earned - and six hits in five innings of a 6-4 defeat on May 6.

The right-hander was bumped from Pittsburgh's rotation two weeks after that game, but returned this month and won his first two starts with quality outings. However, he's been shaky in his last three starts, allowing 15 runs, 21 hits and nine walks in 12 1-3 innings.

Armas has an 8.52 ERA and a .330 opponent batting average on the road.

Two and a half weeks after flipping Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in the batting order, manager Ned Yost returned them to their original spots Thursday.

And Yost said he'd probably keep them there. Braun had batted third and Fielder fourth until Aug. 14, when Yost switched them. Yost thought opponents were starting to pitch around Fielder and wanted to protect him with Braun.

Neither Braun nor Fielder flourished in the new setup, however. Braun was hitting .209 with three home runs and six RBIs as the new cleanup man, and Fielder was at .222 with three homers and nine RBIs batting third.

"(Switching back) helps Braun a little bit," Yost said.

To protect Fielder in the lineup, Yost moved hot-hitting outfielder Corey Hart into the fifth spot. Hart was batting .400 over his previous 10 games and had driven in five runs in his last four contests.

"I'd like to keep Corey in the No. 5 spot," Yost said. "Corey always finds ways to produce."

CUBS 5, BREWERS 4: Chris Capuano allowed back-to-back homers by Matt Murton and Alfonso Soriano in the sixth inning to snap a 3-3 tie as the Cubs moved to 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers in the National League Central. Rickie Weeks led off the game with a home run for the Brewers, and Kevin Mench had an RBI double in the first and a sacrifice fly in the third. The Brewers pulled within a run in the ninth on Corey Hart's bases-loaded walk off Ryan Dempster, but Mench grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game on the next pitch.

--2B Rickie Weeks went 2-for-3 with a home run Thursday night and finished the Brewers' nine-game road trip at 13-for-28 (.464). Weeks, who now has a 10-game hitting streak, raised his average from .202 to .234 during the trip.

--LHP Manny Parra left Thursday's game after three innings with a bruised left thumb that he suffered while attempting to bunt in the top of the fourth inning. Parra's pitching line for the game was all 3s -- 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. The last time a starting pitcher had such a line was Aug. 5, 1975, when Sonny Siebert of the Oakland Athletics posted all 3s in a 15-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

--INF Joe Dillon rapped a pinch double and is now hitting .421 (16-for-38) since being called up from Class AAA Nashville on Aug. 1. Dillon is hitting .545 (6-for-11) as a pinch-hitter.

--LHP Chris Capuano lost his 12th consecutive decision, breaking the team record of 11 straight losses he shared with Marty Pattin (1969-'70), Chris Bosio (1988) and Glendon Rusch (2003). Capuano, who made the NL All-Star team last year, started this season 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA but is now 5-12 with a 5.37 ERA. His last two losses have come in relief since being removed from the rotation. The loss also was the Brewers' 18th straight in games in which Capuano has pitched. Since the All-Star break in 2006, Capuano is 6-19.

--CF Bill Hall, who signed a four-year, $24 million contract before spring training, was removed for a pinch hitter for the second time in the three-game series at Wrigley Field. Hall is batting just .254 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs after hitting .270 with 35 homers and 85 RBIs last year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0.42 -- The number of earned runs per nine innings RHP Claudio Vargas saw his ERA jump from (4.72 to 5.14) by allowing six runs in two-thirds of an inning in San Francisco on Friday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was hoping he would take this opportunity and run with it a little bit. He's just not making pitches when he needs to." -- Manager Ned Yost, after left-hander Chris Capuano lost in his first relief outing after being removed from the starting rotation.

MEDICAL WATCH:
LHP Manny Parra (bruised left thumb) left the Aug. 30 game after injuring himself on a bunt attempt.

RHP Claudio Vargas (back soreness) went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 25.

RHP Ben Sheets (partial tissue tear in middle finger) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 15. He started throwing bullpen sessions Aug. 14. He cut short a simulated game Aug. 20 with a blister on the injured finger, but threw a bullpen session on Aug. 26. He will be activated to make the start Aug. 29.

INF Tony Graffanino (torn anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage in right knee) went on the disabled list Aug. 9. He had a bone graft Aug. 20, preparing him for season-ending surgery.

3B Corey Koskie (post-concussion syndrome) has been on the disabled list all season. There is no timetable for his return to action.


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