Brewers rout Marlins behind Gallardo-Lucroy battery
Righty throws 6 1/3 shutout innings; catcher's four hits spark offense
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers didn't win any spelling bees on Saturday, but earned straight As in every other subject.
They scored early and often for Yovani Gallardo, who continued his mastery of the Marlins in Milwaukee's 6-0 win at Miller Park, where the home team's only blemish was splashed across manager Ron Roenicke's retro jersey. It read, "MILWAKUEE."
"They gave me a new jersey, third [inning] or fourth, somewhere in there," Roenicke said. "I didn't even know what was on the jersey."
He was busy watching the batter's box. Ryan Braun delivered a two-run double in the first inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a home run in the third that bounced off the heel of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton's glove and over the fence as part of a four-hit night, and Rickie Weeks added another solo shot in the fourth. The Brewers tallied 10 hits before Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi recorded his 12th and final out.
Gallardo had much better success against a Marlins offense that has not scored for 24 innings. He worked 6 1/3 innings with help from reliever Brandon Kintzler, who stranded a pair of inherited runners in the seventh, then stayed in the game to work a scoreless eighth. Donovan Hand, Michael Gonzalez and Burke Badenhop combined to blank the Marlins in the ninth.
The Brewers were the last team in the Major Leagues to win via shutout, a dubious distinction they shed with a 6-0 victory in Cincinnati on June 15. Since then, Milwaukee leads the Majors with seven shutout wins, including the last two games against Miami.
"When we command the ball, we're pretty good," Roenicke said. "It's good to see. Early in the season, when we were getting down by so many runs early, it was tough on the offense. It was tough sometimes to stay in the ballgame."
Does it help that the Brewers are facing a Marlins offense that entered Saturday last in the National League in runs, hits, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging?
"I don't know. I think we're pitching a lot better, so I don't want to say it's the offense that we're facing," Roenicke said. "I know one thing: When we don't pitch well, everyone hits us hard."
Gallardo scattered five hits and two walks with five strikeouts and is 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins, every one of which has met the definition of a quality start. In two scoreless starts against Miami this season, Gallardo has worked 14 1/3 scoreless frames.
He touched 92 mph with only one of his 105 pitches, but Gallardo, who is being scouted heavily as teams prepare for the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, was efficient after a 25-pitch first. He needed 15 pitches in the second, 12 in the third, 11 in the fourth and 10 in the fifth, allowing the right-hander to work through the sixth for his third consecutive start since a rough three-inning outing in Washington on July 1.
"I was able to command my fastball and get out of some jams whenever I needed to make a pitch," Gallardo said. "I was able to keep the ball down, mostly, and they turned some double plays behind me that were much needed."
"I thought the rhythm was really good in his delivery," Roenicke said. "That's the guy that we need to carry on with."
Eovaldi had worked at least six innings in each of his last eight starts dating to last season with the Dodgers, but took the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits and two walks in four innings against a Brewers team that has given him trouble. In four career starts against Milwaukee, Eovaldi is 0-4 with a 4.91 ERA.
"It's definitely frustrating, the way we played last night, and come into today," Eovaldi said. "A long first inning again -- giving up two runs. Just not attacking, really. I've got to attack those guys better."
Lucroy was already a triple shy of the cycle when Eovaldi was removed from the game in the fifth, and when he singled sharply in the seventh inning, Lucroy finished his night with four hits and two RBIs. He is batting .345 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs over his last 46 games and has raised his batting average in that stretch from .208 to .286. Lucroy leads the Major Leagues with 52 RBIs as a catcher.
He was denied a third RBI in the Brewers' three-run fourth inning, when Lucroy's ground-rule double bounced over the wall in center field. But he'd benefited from a lucky bounce an inning earlier, when Stanton leaped from the warning track for Lucroy's long fly ball.
The baseball struck the heel of Stanton's glove and bounced up and over the fence for a home run and a 3-0 Brewers lead.
"That's pretty funny, man," Lucroy said. "Baseball's a weird game. It's a crazy game, it really is. … I told him when he came up that I owed him dinner next year when we go play in Miami. He said, 'Yeah, you do owe me dinner.'"
For Stanton, his blooper was a first.
"At least it wasn't off my head like [Jose] Canseco," he said.
Both teams' jerseys (the Brewers honored the 1923 Milwaukee Bears on Negro Leagues Tribute Night and the Marlins wore duds from Miami's '56 Triple-A team) will be auctioned on MLB.com beginning at 9 a.m. CT on Tuesday, with proceeds benefiting the Yesterday's Negro League Baseball Players Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.