Gallardo beats Orioles the old-fashioned way
Righty allows three runs in 6 2/3 innings; Davis' HR breaks it open late
MILWAUKEE -- For the second straight night, Yovani Gallardo was a winner.
Twenty-four hours after coming off an empty Brewers bench to deliver a walk-off double, Gallardo beat the Orioles more conventionally, with his arm, pitching 6 2/3 quality innings of an 8-3 victory at Miller Park on Wednesday.
A red-hot Khris Davis hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Brewers some breathing room, Ryan Braun had two hits and two RBIs, and Gallardo (3-3) logged a win for the first time in nine starts since beating the Red Sox in Boston during the Brewers' first road trip in early April. With their fourth win in six games after dropping five of the previous six, the National League Central-leading Brewers are back to 10 games over .500 at 32-22.
And this is no longer a fast start. One-third of the season is officially in the books.
"We expected to be here," Gallardo said. "Going into Spring Training, you always want to be in first place, no matter what point in the season it is. We have a good mix of guys in this clubhouse to keep this going throughout the year."
Davis has homered in three straight games, but Gallardo was as responsible as anyone for Milwaukee's second consecutive series victory. On Tuesday, his 10th-inning double made Gallardo the first Major League pitcher to produce a walk-off hit in extra innings since another Brewer -- Glendon Rusch -- did so in April 2003. On Wednesday, Gallardo took to the mound and surrendered a pair of solo home runs to one-time Brewers prospect Nelson Cruz, but limited the Orioles to three runs and four hits while working around five walks.
Three of those walks came in succession with two outs in the fourth inning and Gallardo pitching with a 4-1 lead. He escaped disaster by retiring Orioles No. 8 hitter Jonathan Schoop on a grounder to third base.
"I was just trying to rush through my delivery a little bit," Gallardo said. "I got two quick outs and I tried to finish that inning quick instead of doing what I was doing. Three walks in a row is never good, but I was able to make a pitch when I needed to."
The Orioles did strike in the sixth, getting a run on Cruz's second homer of the night -- his Major League-leading 19th -- and another in the seventh when Manny Machado greeted sputtering Brewers reliever Brandon Kintzler with an RBI single that added a run to Gallardo's pitching line.
Kintzler surrendered singles to both of the batters he faced, but another reliever, left-hander Will Smith, struck out Orioles slugger Chris Davis with runners at second and third to douse that rally. Smith also struck out the side in the eighth inning to lower his ERA to 0.36.
After Davis' homer highlighted a four-run Brewers outburst in the bottom of the eighth inning, Zach Duke finished the game with a scoreless ninth. The Brewers improved to 7-2 in Interleague Play this season.
"[Gallardo's] ball-strike ratio is still too high with balls, and then he comes back and makes some good pitches," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "'Yo' can figure out how to get through a game, and even though it looks like he's all over the place, which he was at times, he makes big pitches."
Brewers hitters rewarded their pitcher with some big hits against Orioles starter Bud Norris, who said later he was having trouble gripping what he called "really slick" baseballs. Carlos Gomez's RBI single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to nine games, and when Gomez stole third base before scoring in the third inning, he joined Minnesota's Brian Dozier as the only Major Leaguers with double-digit home runs and steals.
Braun walked and scored in the first inning, delivered an opposite-field, two-run double with two outs in the second after Cruz had tied the game with a home run, and also singled in the seventh. Braun is 10-for-22 since moving up a spot in the Brewers' batting order to the two-hole.
In the eighth, Gomez sparked a rally with a double before scoring on Rickie Weeks' pinch-hit single. That briefly extended the Brewers' lead to 5-3 before Khris Davis connected against Baltimore's Brian Matusz for a game-breaking, three-run home run.
"Not always going to be hunky-dory and everything fall in line," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "What do they call it? Aesthetically pleasing? That's why the other team's good. That's one of the best teams in the National League, so they got quality starting pitching. We knew coming in it was going to be a challenge. We could have very easily won two and possibly three games. I really like our chances if we can keep at 4-3."
Davis, who is generally overshadowed by the Orioles' slugger of approximately the same name, went 7-for-11 in the series with a home run in each of the three games.
"I feel locked in," Davis said. "I found something I could believe in inside my swing that's working, where I can lay off borderline pitches and swing at the pitch I want to hit."
The Brewers have at least 10 hits in eight straight games, one shy of a franchise record.
"We're stringing them together and putting pressure on the pitcher, definitely," Davis said. "We're getting runs when we need to."
Said Roenicke: "We had a couple of weeks where we didn't play good ball, but I think we're playing well again. The offense is really going."