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Gio sharp again as Brewers down Phillies

Southpaw continues impressive return to Crew with 5 1/3 innings
@feinsand
May 16, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Gio Gonzalez’s return to the Brewers seems to be working out quite well. Gonzalez delivered another stellar performance for Milwaukee on Wednesday, leading the Brewers to a 5-2 victory over the Phillies for their second straight win at Citizens Bank Park. • Box score The 33-year-old left-hander gave

PHILADELPHIA -- Gio Gonzalez’s return to the Brewers seems to be working out quite well.

Gonzalez delivered another stellar performance for Milwaukee on Wednesday, leading the Brewers to a 5-2 victory over the Phillies for their second straight win at Citizens Bank Park.

Box score

The 33-year-old left-hander gave up one run on seven hits and one walk, striking out three over 5 1/3 innings. His lone blemish was a first-inning home run by Jean Segura, but Gonzalez got a pair of timely double plays to help him keep Philadelphia down after the opening frame.

“He’s keeping runs off the board,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s doing a nice job, doing it with great feel, keeping the hitters on the defensive a little bit, much like you see Zach Davies doing. The hitter never really feels like he’s in a good count, doesn’t feel like he’s aggressive. He’s doing a wonderful job.”

Gonzalez even contributed with some goofy baserunning on Wednesday, staying put after Ryan Braun hit a grounder to Phillies third baseman Sean Rodriguez with the bases loaded. Rodriguez appeared to be confused after seeing Gonzalez freeze near the third-base bag, causing him to take a lengthy pause before finally throwing home for the force out.

Instead of a double play, the bases remained loaded. Mike Moustakas drew a walk to force in a run and Jesús Aguilar singled in two more, putting the Brewers ahead for good.

“I think we confused everybody; I was confused myself,” Gonzalez said. “When [third-base coach] Eddie [Sedar] told me to run, I was like, ‘Where am I going?’ Not the way I wanted it to go, but it went the right way, which was a good thing. It was huge that inning. I don’t know what I did, but apparently my clumsiness worked.”

Gonzalez, who started the season with the Yankees’ Triple-A club before opting out of his Minor League deal on April 20, signed with the Brewers a week later. The reunion with Milwaukee, which acquired him from the Nationals last Aug. 31 for the stretch run, has proven to be a win for both sides. He’s 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his four starts this season.

Then again, since Gonzalez signed with the Brewers on April 27, excellent starting pitching has been the norm for Counsell’s team, which is 12-6 in 18 games during that stretch.

As good as Gonzalez has been, his 1.69 ERA is only the fourth lowest among starters since he signed. Not in the Majors, just in Milwaukee.

Brandon Woodruff has a 1.23 ERA in his past four starts, while Davies has a 1.40 mark over his past three (and an MLB-best 1.54 ERA for the season). Jhoulys Chacín has pitched to a 1.59 ERA in his most recent three outings, edging out Gonzalez and his own sub-2.00 ERA.

Those numbers equate to a 1.47 ERA by the four starters in their 14 starts since April 27, with the Brewers going 11-3 in those games. In the four starts made by other pitchers during this stretch, Milwaukee is 1-3.

“That’s always part of a starting rotation,” Counsell said. “We got off to a rough start in that area, and Gio, I think, has been a big stabilizer in this whole thing. Woody is obviously throwing the ball well and Zach has been solid every time out; guys are getting back to what they’re good at.”

Gonzalez has held his opponent to one or zero runs in three of his four outings, and although he hasn’t completed six innings in any of those starts, he has gotten through five frames every time, turning a lead over to the bullpen in each of the past three.

“Collectively, as a starting rotation, we’re working together and picking up off each other,” Gonzalez said. “It helps out with a bullpen like ours; it eases the mind a little bit when you know you can keep pitching, and if times get a little rough, you have guys back there to make their magic happen.”

That was the case on Wednesday, as Gonzalez came out for the sixth with a 5-1 lead. He permitted singles to two of the first three Phillies hitters, giving the home team an opening to get back into the game. On came Jeremy Jeffress, who retired J.T Realmuto on a popup and struck out Cesar Hernandez, extinguishing the threat. Josh Hader would later record a perfect ninth inning for his 11th save.

Milwaukee was 14-13 when Gonzalez agreed to return, but the Brewers are 12-6 since that day thanks to a tremendous run of starting pitching. Gonzalez’s performance every fifth or sixth day has been a major factor in this run, just as it was Wednesday.

“The addition of Gio, 'consistent' is the word you’d like to use because the line scores look the same every time out,” Counsell said. “It’s more than consistent; he’s been really darn good. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start yet. That’s really good.”

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.