Peralta throws three-hit shutout in Braun's return
First Brewers complete game since 2011; Left fielder goes 1-for-3
MILWAUKEE -- The first thing Wily Peralta did Tuesday night after breaking the Brewers' long complete-game drought was hug his catcher, Martin Maldonado.
The second thing Peralta did was hug his mom.
"She was crying," Peralta said.
Miledy Peralta picked the perfect night to see her son pitch as a professional for the first time, nestled among the 25,369 fans at Miller Park who reveled in the big right-hander's complete-game, three-hit shutout in Milwaukee's 2-0 win over the Reds.
Logan Schafer accounted for all of the night's offense by hitting his first Major League home run in a game he wasn't supposed to start, and Peralta did the rest. For the first time in two and a half years, since Yovani Gallardo's two-hit shutout of the Braves on April 5, 2011, the Brewers' bullpen door remained closed.
"It took way too long," Gallardo said.
Peralta, 24, notched the first complete game of his Major League career and only the third complete game of a professional career that began in 2005 and spans 128 starts in the Majors and Minors. The Brewers had played 407 regular season games -- and 11 more in the 2011 postseason -- without a pitcher finishing what he started, until Peralta took the mound against a Reds team that ranked fourth in the National League in runs scored.
Encouraged by Maldonado, who appeared to approach Peralta's 94-97 mph with some of his return throws to the mound, Peralta worked at a snappier than usual pace while scattering four walks, two singles and a triple in the best start of his budding big league career. He threw 113 pitches.
"I've been thinking about it all my career, like, 'When am I going to throw a complete game?'" Peralta said. "The shutout was a blessing for me."
The shutout was a bonus considering that no Brewers pitcher had notched a complete game between Gallardo's gem against the Braves and Peralta's against the Reds. During that span, every other team in the Majors logged at least four complete games. The Phillies had 27.
The Brewers' long drought did have an asterisk: Zack Greinke pitched nine scoreless innings against the White Sox last June in a game won by the Brewers in 10 innings.
Still, manager Ron Roenicke had a knot in his stomach when Peralta walked the Reds' Joey Votto with two outs in the ninth. Brandon Phillips was next, representing the tying run.
"It was going to be a bad decision if Phillips got on there," Roenicke said. "That was going to be a tough one."
Said Peralta: "When I walked Votto, I still felt very strong. I said, 'Don't worry about the pitch count, just make one pitch at a time.'"
His 113th pitch registered 96 mph, and Phillips rolled it to shortstop for a game-ending groundout.
"He didn't make many mistakes. Last time we saw him, he made quite a few," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was in control the whole way."
Peralta has been in control for some time now, pitching to a 1.03 ERA over his last four starts, including a no-decision at Washington on July 2 in which Peralta dueled Stephen Strasburg before exiting in the sixth inning with a left hamstring strain. The Brewers gave Peralta an extra two days of rest as a precaution.
On Tuesday, the hamstring was never an issue.
"If you watched him move around, he was confident," Roenicke said. "You can see it in his body language. I think that in the long run, a game like that can carry him a long way."
Peralta's run support came from Schafer, who was inserted to the lineup about an hour before Peralta's first pitch, when regular right fielder Norichika Aoki was scratched with a tight left elbow.
After Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani walked Maldonado leading off the fifth inning, Schafer connected on a first-pitch fastball and hit it deep to right-center field for his first Major League home run in his 191st at-bat.
"Coming back onto the field and hearing the fans chant my name, that was really awesome. That's something I'll always remember," said Schafer, who figured a few runs would make all the difference. "Both pitchers were throwing well. Their guy Cingrani knew how to pitch up in the zone, and it was nice to put some runs on the board."
Cingrani allowed only those two runs on three hits and two walks in seven innings, with 10 strikeouts. One of the hits was a first-inning single by left fielder Ryan Braun, who made his first start off the disabled list and lined a single to center field on the first live pitch he had seen in exactly one month.
Braun is being eased back into action, so he exited after six innings and was replaced in left field by Jeff Bianchi, who nearly contributed to Peralta's shutout bid slipping away in the seventh.
Reds left fielder Derrick Robinson hit a triple down the left-field line that eluded Bianchi as it banked around the corner. But Bianchi fired a throw to shortstop Jean Segura, who relayed home in time to prevent Robinson from scoring an inside-the-park home run.
Peralta worked around a hit in the eighth inning by inducing a Xavier Paul double play, then worked around Votto's two-out walk in the ninth.
"I've gotten to play with Wily for a while now, so I've seen him that dominant before," Schafer said. "It was really fun to watch. It felt like I was out there on defense for, like, three minutes tonight."
Schafer had seen Peralta pitch because they advanced through the Brewers' Minor League system together. But Miledy Peralta had not seen her son since he was an amateur in the Dominican Republic. Wily said he worked for three years to acquire a travel visa for his mother to see him pitch in the U.S.
Tuesday marked her first visit.
"First time ever," Wily said. "Even, I remember when I pitched in the Dominican in winter ball in 2011, she was sick so she wasn't able to see me there. It's a blessing for me that she was here. I give it to her, the game that I pitched today."