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News » Brewers-Pirates Preview 2009-05-04

Brewers-Pirates Preview 2009-05-04

Brewers-Pirates Preview 2009-05-04
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.

Gallardo, limited to four starts in 2008 due to a torn ACL, allowed two hits over eight innings and struck out a career-high 11. He also hit a seventh-inning home run in the 1-0 victory to become the first pitcher to homer for the game's only run since Odalis Perez did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Arizona on Aug. 28, 2002.

"It's not surprising anymore," reliever Carlos Villanueva told the Brewers' official Web site. "He won it. He pitched eight innings and he hit the home run. All around, it was Yovani Gallardo Day."

Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates. The usual top three batters in Pittsburgh's lineup - Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth - are a combined 5-for-30 (.167) with nine strikeouts against him.

Pittsburgh's offense has had trouble against most Milwaukee pitchers lately. The Brewers (13-12) have held the Pirates to an average of 2.6 runs in winning the last 15 meetings, including a three-game sweep last week.

It's the longest win streak by one team over another since Oakland beat Seattle 15 straight in 2006. There hasn't been a longer such streak since Arizona won 16 in a row over Cincinnati from May 8, 2001-Aug. 13, 2003.

Gallardo could have another easy time Monday given the way the Pirates (12-12) are struggling at the plate. Pittsburgh was shut out for the third time in four games Sunday, losing 5-0 to the Reds.

Pittsburgh was held to four singles en route to its fifth loss in six games. The Pirates didn't put a runner in scoring position all afternoon and struck out nine times.

"It's one of those things where you've got to keep your head up and keep plugging away, and just believe in the guys behind you and everything will work out," Morgan said.

The Brewers offense hasn't been particularly good lately, either, with 12 runs and a .228 average over the last five games.

However, Milwaukee is coming off a four-game split against Arizona, closing the series with a 4-3 victory Sunday. The go-ahead run came on Chris Duffy's RBI groundout in the eighth inning after Prince Fielder, who had three walks, and Mike Cameron hit back-to-back homers in the second to give the Brewers the lead.

"With the number of right-handed hitters that we do have, he's going to be pitched tough all the time," Brewers manager Ken Macha said of Fielder. "The best thing to do in that situation is just get on base. By walking, you're going to contribute to the team winning."

Fielder is hitting .333 with 11 walks in his last nine games.

Ryan Braun, batting .314 with five home runs, has missed the last two games with back stiffness and is day to day.

He probably hopes to return Monday considering the Brewers face Paul Maholm (3-0, 3.09), who suffered his first loss Tuesday in a 6-5 defeat at Milwaukee. 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.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 4, 2009

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