Baseball / Sports

Gallardo a big hit for Brewers in 7-6 walkoff win over O's

MILWAUKEE--It's not every day that the next day's starting pitcher wins that night's game with his bat.

That improbable ending Tuesday night prevented the Milwaukee Brewers from absorbing another gut-wrenching defeat. With the team out of position players, right-hander Yovani Gallardo pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning and delivered a game-winning double to beat Baltimore, 7-6, at Miller Park.

The Orioles knew the Brewers had no position players remaining and had left-hander T.J. McFarland intentionally walk Mark Reynolds to bring Gallardo to the plate. So much for that strategy.

McFarland fell behind, 2-0, in the count and had to come in with a strike. Gallardo pounded it off the wall in left-center to easily score Reynolds and avoid a repeat of the discouraging 10-inning loss to the Orioles on Monday.

And, oh yeah, Gallardo is the Brewers' scheduled starter for the series finale Wednesday evening.

Gallardo had only one hit in 14 at-bats (.071) this season and missed his last start with a sprained left ankle but has 12 career home runs and was the obvious choice to hit among the Brewers' pitching corps. It was his first base hit as a pinch hitter.

"I was just trying to get a ball that was out over the plate," said Gallardo. "When he fell behind 2-0, I just tried to put a good swing on it and see what happens. The pitch wasn't where he wanted it. I was able to make good contact."

"I checked with him and he said he was fine," said manager Ron Roenicke. "He actually ran the bases today before the game (to test the ankle). Yo has shown over the years he's a really good hitter."

After blowing an early 5-0 lead, the first-place Brewers appeared headed for another tough loss when they were down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth. With pinch runner Elian Herrera on third base, Jonathan Lucroy tapped an infield hit that third baseman Manny Machado couldn't make a play on, allowing the Brewers to tie the game.

Francisco Rodriguez, who blew a save Monday by allowing two runs in the ninth with two outs, pitched an uneventful 10th to give the Brewers a chance for a badly needed victory.

"We needed the win, especially after the game yesterday," said Roenicke. "That was a big blow, with all of the opportunities we had. We didn't want that to happen again.

"We had the lead and it was tough giving it up. I'm glad it worked out. It was a strange way to win the game. Goofy things happened. This game was just weird."

Brewers starter Matt Garza was given an early 5-0 lead and cruised through the first four innings. It went downhill for Garza from there, however.

The game turned in ugly fashion for the Brewers in the seventh inning, with an error playing a big role. Nelson Cruz, who homered in his previous at-bat, led off with a walk before J.J. Hardy flied out to center.

Nick Hundley ripped a sharp grounder to the left of second base that shortstop Jean Segura ranged over to glove, but his backhand flip to second baseman Rickie Weeks was wide for an error that left both runners safe.

A groundout by Jonathan Schoop gave Garza a chance to get out of the inning but he couldn't do it. Pinch hitter Steve Pearce lined a 3-1 fastball just inside the left-field foul pole for a three-run homer that put the Orioles on top, 6-5.

Roenicke visited the mound after the error and decided to leave Garza in the game. When things didn't work out, Garza was lifted and vented his frustration in the dugout.

"I really liked the way he threw the ball," Roenicke said of Garza. "After the error, I thought he deserved to be in there and finish the inning."

In a scene reminiscent of the late innings the previous day, the Brewers loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Darren O'Day but couldn't push across the tying run. Reynolds hit a ball as hard as he could, but third baseman Machado speared the liner to save a huge hit.

Pinch hitter Irving Falu then grounded out against lefty Brian Matusz and the Orioles escaped with their lead.

"Reynolds had an outstanding at-bat," said Roenicke. "He just hit the ball right at them."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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