Yovani Gallardo provided all the offense to support his own start against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week. He really hasn’t needed much help lately anyway.
Looking to dominate a fourth straight start, Gallardo tries to lift the Milwaukee Brewers to their 16th straight win over the Pirates on Monday in the opener of a two-game series at PNC Park.
Gallardo (3-1, 2.86 ERA) could be emerging as Milwaukee’s new ace following the offseason departures of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. The 23-year-old right-hander has allowed two runs in his last three starts - spanning 23 innings - and he’s coming off a stellar outing against the Pirates on Wednesday.
The Brewers face Paul Maholm (3-0, 3.09), who suffered his first loss Tuesday in a 6-5 defeat at Milwaukee. Ryan Braun had an RBI single and an RBI double off Maholm, who allowed five runs and seven hits with five walks in 5 1-3 innings.
Maholm has lost his last five decisions versus the Brewers and the Pirates have lost the last eight starts he’s made against them. Fielder is 2-for-24 against him, but Cameron is 11-for-21 and Bill Hall is 16-for-28 with three homers apiece.
Without left fielder Ryan Braun (back stiffness) in the lineup Sunday, manager Ken Macha had some maneuvering to do. He opted on a batting order in which right fielder Corey Hart led off, shortstop J.J. Hardy—playing again after a two-day mental break—batted second and second baseman Rickie Weeks third.
It was only the second big-league start for Weeks in the three-hole. The other came on Aug. 31, 2005 against Pittsburgh, when he responded with a two-run homer.
“This guy is swinging the bat as good as anybody right now,” Macha said of Weeks. “He’s been driving the ball, hitting liners everywhere.
“Corey’s on-base is a lot higher than Rickie’s is. I like Rickie’s at-bats. We’ll take advantage of his power.”
Macha said Weeks will become an even better hitter when he starts going to right field on pitches away. Macha said Weeks “breaks his wrists” so fast that he pulls most pitches and often hits the ball on the end of the bat.
“He’s still a young guy; he’s learning,” said Macha. “He’s so strong that right-center home runs are easily attainable if he stays on the ball a little bit longer.”
Weeks went 1-for-4 with a triple and was robbed of another hit on a leaping catch by second baseman Felipe Lopez.
Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 3: The Brewers rallied to win with a run in the eighth after the Diamondbacks tied the game with three bases-empty homers off RHP Dave Bush in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, OF Chris Duffy delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI groundout to second. Bush didn’t get the win but produced the Brewers’ 15th quality start of the season. RHP Trevor Hoffman made it 3-for-3 in converting saves since coming off the DL by throwing seven of eight pitches for strikes in the ninth. The Brewers finished a 5-2 home stand to leave town above .500 (13-12).
• LF Ryan Braun was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game Sunday with upper back tightness. Braun said he believed the problem was connected to the intercostal tightness that plagued him near the end of last season and throughout the spring. “It’s all in the same general area,” said Braun, who was unable to play on Ryan Braun Bobblehead Day, which drew a sellout crowd to Miller Park.
• SS J.J. Hardy was back in the lineup Sunday after sitting out two days for a “mental break.” Hardy had only one hit in 20 at-bats at the time and was batting .156. He admitted to pressing and getting frustrated because “nothing was happening.” Hardy went 1-for-4, and his leadoff single in the eighth started the winning rally in a 4-3 victory over Arizona.
By The Numbers: 2—Starts in the No. 3 spot in the batting order for 2B Rickie Weeks, who assumed the role Sunday versus Arizona. Weeks had not batted third since the 2005 season.
Quote To Note: “I’m going to have OSHA investigate it.”—Brewers manager Ken Macha, referring to the volume on the entrance song of closer Trevor Hoffman, AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.”
The Brewers’ starting pitching, which figured to be a weak spot at the start of the season, actually has been solid. The Brewers have 15 quality starts, ranking among the best rotations in the majors. The hitting, however, has been sporadic at best. Too many hitters are struggling, including SS J.J. Hardy, C Jason Kendall and 1B Prince Fielder. The Brewers remain too reliant on home runs to score, making it difficult to win games when they don’t hit the long ball.
• 2B Rickie Weeks started a game batting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup Sunday for only the second time in his career. He started one game in that spot in 2005 and socked a two-run homer. Otherwise, Weeks has batted primarily in the leadoff spot. Manager Ken Macha said Weeks was swinging the bat “as well as anybody” and used him in the three-hole with LF Ryan Braun out with back stiffness. Weeks was 1-for-4 with a triple.
• OF Brad Nelson got his second start of the year in place of ailing RF Ryan Braun (back stiffness) but was unable to collect his first hit. Nelson went 0-for-3 and is now 0-for-18 for the season with eighth strikeouts. He is 0-for-11 as a pinch-hitter.
• CF Mike Cameron’s 1,500th career hit was a big one—a home run in the second inning off Arizona RHP Yusmeiro Petit. Cameron homered on the next pitch after 1B Prince Fielder socked a long homer to right-center. It was the first time this season the Brewers produced back-to-back homers.
LF Ryan Braun (back tightness) didn’t play May 2-3. He is day-to-day.
C Mike Rivera (sprained left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 29.
RHP David Riske (right elbow tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 10. He will attempt to rehab the elbow through mid-May, but if he is unsuccessful, he might need Tommy John surgery.