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One minute Yovani Gallardo was cruising along to his second victory of the season. The next, he was lost in the fog.

Gallardo, the emerging ace of the Milwaukee Brewers' pitching staff, went to the mound in the third inning Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds with a 5-1 lead and an air of confidence.

He left the mound 40 pitches later trailing 7-5 after surrendering three walks, a single, a hit batter and a grand slam.

Despite numerous scoring opportunities, the Brewers could not overcome that barrage as they suffered their third consecutive loss 7-6 before a crowd of 25,016 at Miller Park.

"My location wasn't where it normally is," Gallardo said. "I wasn't able to make pitches when I needed to. It's real frustrating. I blew a four-run lead, so I was pretty upset about that.

"I was able to get two outs but then things got away from me real quick. I left one pitch up in the zone and the next things you know they've got six runs. It just happened so quick."

While the Reds' offense came quickly, thanks largely to Edwin Encarnacion's third career grand slam, the Brewers' repeatedly came up short down the stretch.

Milwaukee grabbed a 5-1 lead on the strength of Corey Hart's three-run homer in the second inning.

But the only other run the Brewers could manage came on a leadoff homer by J.J. Hardy in the fifth inning. The Brewers finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

The Brewers left the bases loaded twice. They loaded them with nobody out in the fourth inning on singles by Jason Kendall and Gallardo and a hit by pitch by Rickie Weeks, who took a fastball from Edinson Volquez on the chin.

Hart lined out to shortstop. Ryan Braun then hit into a force out at home and Prince Fielder grounded out to end the inning.

Hart triggered a two-out rally in the eighth with a triple over center fielder Willy Taveras. After walks to Braun and Fielder, Hardy lined to deep right-center.

"Looking at the positives, we swung the bat very well," manager Ken Macha said. "We had the bases loaded and Corey absolutely hit two ropes - one down the line just foul and the other to the shortstop. Then J.J. came up with the bases loaded and hit a line drive out to right-center. That's the game. There's holes out there and we have to start finding them with men on base."

The Brewers' last threat came in the ninth off former Brewer closer Francisco Cordero. Chris Duffy drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a throwing error by Taveras. But Craig Counsell grounded to first, giving Cordero his second save.

Milwaukee's pitchers also have to start finding the strike zone.

In their last two games, starters Jeff Suppan and Gallardo have allowed 10 walks in 823 innings.

While Suppan's struggles aren't necessarily surprising, Gallardo's sudden loss of control was befuddling to Macha.

"That's hard to explain," he said. "You have those five hitters, three walks and a hit batsman and then after the home run he gets seven straight guys out."

Macha is clearly frustrated by a pitching staff that leads the National League in walks and hit batters.

"That's got to stop," he said. "Giving those bases away all the time, you can't afford to do that."

TUE., APR 14, 2009 12:25 AM

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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