Gallardo shuts down Pirates as Brewers cruise 6-0
PITTSBURGH The Milwaukee Brewers have wheels.
On the basepaths, and in the standings, too.
Ryan Braun hit two hits, drove in a run and collected three of Milwaukee’s seven stolen bases in a 6-0 romp over the weary Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
“I think people have always perceived us as a team that relies on the home run,” Braun said. “Well, we really don’t. We’re pretty good at running the bases.”
Then again, just about everybody is against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh entered the night throwing out less than 10 percent of attempted base stealers on the season, by far the lowest in the majors. The number only got worse as the Brewers went 7 for 7 to post their highest single game steals total since moving to the National League in 1998.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can steal bases, and if you rely on the homer, you really get yourself in trouble, so you try to find a way to manufacture runs sometimes, too,” Braun said.
Not that streaking Yovani Gallardo (16-8) requires much in the way of run support these days.
The right-hander gave up two hits over 6 2-3 innings to win his eighth straight decision. Milwaukee moved in front of fading Pittsburgh in the jumbled National League wild-card race and remained 2 1-2 games back of St. Louis for the second wild-card spot.
“Yo’s on a roll that he goes out there and he throws up a lot of zeroes,” said Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke.
Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy had three hits apiece for the Brewers, who trailed the Pirates by nine games during their last visit to PNC Park but are peaking heading into the final two weeks of the season.
“We just continued to believe, continued to stay positive,” Braun said. “I think with the second wild card, it gives everybody hope.”
A.J. Burnett (15-8) gave up two runs in six innings but couldn’t stop Pittsburgh’s late season swoon. The Pirates are 4-12 this month.
“He really wrestled out there,” said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. “He gave it everything he had.”
Even if it wasn’t enough for Burnett to become the first Pirates pitcher to win 16 games in 20 years. He shook off trouble in the first two innings — when he needed 51 pitches to get six outs while giving up a run — to pitch into the sixth for his 25th straight start.
Pittsburgh took the field less than 24 hours removed from a long night in Chicago, where the Pirates waited out a rain delay of more than three hours before scratching out a 3-0 victory over the Cubs. The team didn’t get into Pittsburgh until 5:40 a.m., and Hurdle let his players arrive later than usual to the ballpark after the on Tuesday. The extra rest didn’t help.
Gallardo has thrived as the team’s No. 1 starter since Zack Greinke was traded to the Los Angeles Angels and had little trouble extending his hot streak against the Pirates.
The Brewers escaped a bases-loaded two-out jam in the second when Gallardo got Burnett to ground out to second.
Pittsburgh didn’t get another base runner until the seventh, and by then Milwaukee had raced to a 4-0 lead.
The night followed a similar theme. The Brewers would get on base with a single — all 13 of their hits were singles — then move into scoring position by taking off for second at the first opportunity.
Eventually, the greed turned into runs.
During one sequence in the seventh, Weeks singled with one out then stole second and raced home on a single by Braun. The reigning NL MVP then stole second and came home on a single up the middle by Lucroy to make it 4-0.
“I think they were good times to go, and we have the opportunity anytime we’re on second base, we get that base hit and we got a few of them,” Roenicke said. “So it was a good game.”
Pittsburgh briefly had a chance to get back in it in the bottom of the inning, using a single, an error and a walk to load the bases. Gallardo gave way to reliever Jonathan Henderson, who got pinch-hitter Mike McKenry to pop to shallow right field.
Milwaukee tacked on two more runs in the eighth, sparked by a single and stolen base by Gomez. It was the seventh of the night for the Brewers, the most since the club joined the NL and the second most in team history. The team record for stolen bases in a single game is eight set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 28, 1992.
Hurdle had no issue with the liberties the Brewers took on the base paths.
“If you don’t like’em stealing bases,” Hurdle said, “get’em out.”
NOTES: The series continues on Wednesday with Milwaukee’s Marco Estrada (3-6, 3.77 ERA) facing Pittsburgh’s Kyle McPherson (0-0, 1.54 ERA), who will be making his first major league start ... The Pirates reached a two-year agreement with the Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.