Brewers take series behind Gallardo's quality outing
Bianchi's pinch-hit, go-ahead single highlights three-run seventh
CHICAGO -- Jeff Bianchi had been 3-for-20 as a pinch-hitter entering Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Cubs, but with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base late in the game, he delivered.
Bianchi hit a two-run single in the seventh and Yovani Gallardo turned in his fifth straight quality start in a 3-1 Brewers victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field.
"In that situation, I'm trying not to do too much, especially with the wind howling in," Bianchi said. "A ball up in the air today might not score [the runner from third], so I was just trying to get a line drive through the infield and I did."
Gallardo tossed seven strong innings, allowing one run on a fifth inning solo homer by Junior Lake. The right-hander yielded three hits, walking one and striking out six. With six strikeouts, Gallardo moved closer to second place in franchise history with 1,062 (19 behind Teddy Higuera's 1,081).
" I just felt good," Gallardo said. "I was able to keep the ball down for the most part. I felt like I had a pretty good slider working today to both sides of the plate."
Since returning on Aug. 17 after a tight left hamstring landed him on the 15-day disabled list, Gallardo has gone 3-0 with a 1.36 ERA (five earned runs in 33 1/3 innings) in five starts.
"Coming off the DL, it kind of refreshes the mental side a little bit more than anything," Gallardo said. "You just go out there and just locate. ... Especially when you've had a tough start [to the season], you try to get the positives. Ever since I came off the DL, my main thing is to give the team a chance to win and be consistent each time out. If you're able to do that, things are going to work out well."
"[Gallardo's] command is really good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's got life in all his pitches. ... Sometimes it takes just one good outing to get it right back again, and Yo's just been so good for so long that we knew he was going to get it together sometime. Maybe [the DL stint] gave him a little breather. ... But that was an outstanding game."
The Brewers couldn't push any runs across against Cubs starter Scott Baker, who made his first start in nearly two years following Tommy John surgery.
Baker stifled Milwaukee hitters for five innings, yielding two hits. He said one of his keys to success was pitching based on the conditions at Wrigley.
"I've always been a pitcher to pitch according to the situation and whatever the conditions are," Baker said. "With the wind the way it was, I'm going to take my chance. If I fall behind a guy, I'll throw it over the plate and let them try to put the ball in play. I don't think you do yourself a favor trying to nitpick."
Once Chicago's bullpen took over, the Brewers were able to break through. With one out in the seventh, Aramis Ramirez doubled down the left-field line off Justin Grimm. Carlos Gomez followed with a single to right and took second base on Nate Schierholtz's throw to the plate as Ramirez was held at third.
Bianchi then delivered a single up the middle off James Russell, past the drawn-in infield to plate both Ramirez and Gomez.
"If [Bianchi] doesn't get that hit there, we're scrambling, we're doing things different, we're hitting for [Gallardo], and then everything changes," Roenicke said. "So Jeff's at-bat was our offense for the day."
Two batters later, Gallardo helped his own cause with an RBI single to bring in Bianchi for an insurance run, making it 3-1.
"You never know when that opportunity is going to be there," Gallardo said. "I think I was able to hit a ball that Russell left up in the zone a little bit and kind of just hit it past [shortstop Starlin] Castro."
Brandon Kintzler pitched a scoreless eighth to get the ball to Jim Henderson, who notched his 24th save.
The Brewers have gone 5-0-2 in their last seven road series and have won 14 of their last 22 road games overall.
Gallardo said that despite a trying season for a team that is out of playoff contention, he and his teammates are pushing forward toward the finish line.
"We're treating every game the same way no matter what the standings say," Gallardo said. "It's obviously not where we wanted to be to begin with, but we're still going out there and competing, trying to win every ballgame.
"That's the mindset that we have and we're just going to keep going out there until that last game of the year and that last out is recorded."