MILWAUKEE -- One-third of the way through the 2014 season, the Milwaukee Brewers have reason to feel good about themselves.
Yes, there was some tough going in recent weeks, a stretch made more tolerable by a blazing start. But with back-to-back series victories under their belts and a 32-22 record, the Brewers are in a position to be envied by most major-league clubs.
"I like the way we're playing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday night after the Brewers pulled away late for an 8-3 interleague victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Miller Park.
"We had a couple of weeks where we didn't play that well, and I think we're playing good ball again. The offense is really going."
Pitching carried the team for the first month and a half of the season, but as the weather has warmed up, so have the Brewers' hitters. They have collected at least 10 hits in eight consecutive games with an average of six runs scored over that stretch.
The ringleaders on this night were Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis, who combined to go 6 for 9 with six runs batted in and five runs scored. With his mind cleared after an Internet death threat on the team's last road trip, Davis took apart Baltimore's pitching staff by going 7 for 11 (.636) with three home runs and five RBI.
Baltimore's more famous Chris Davis, who missed the first game while on paternity leave, went 0 for 8 in the series. So, Khris Davis vs. Chris Davis wasn't even close.
"I've found something I can believe in, in my swing, and I couldn't be any more happy with the way I've been able to put quality ABs together day after day," said Khris Davis, who broke open a tight game with a three-run homer in the eighth inning off lefty Brian Matusz.
"I've shown flashes but I've been able to hold onto something where it keeps me locked in. Just spinning on pitches and trusting my hands, working the other way -- that opposite-field approach. Just feeling like my hands will do the work and using the bat as a tool rather than letting the bat swing me."
Roenicke said all along when Davis was struggling in the early going that his young leftfielder would eventually get it going at the plate, and he was right.
"I know when he's hot he can do some big things," Roenicke said. "When we talked about it in the off-season, we talked about offensive upside with this guy and we're seeing it.
"I know he started rough this year but when he's hot like this, it's impressive."
Though he only allowed four hits in 62/3 innings, Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo -- the offensive hero of the previous evening --battled control issues throughout the game. Two of the three hits were bases-empty home runs by Nelson Cruz, but it was the total of five walks that eventually led to Gallardo's departure in the seventh inning.
"I was just trying to rush through my delivery a little bit," said Gallardo, who evened his record at 3-3. "I got two quick outs (in the fourth before walking the next three hitters) 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.
"This game is weird. Sometimes you have innings like that. Any little thing can throw you off. You just have to stay with it, make the adjustment and keep making pitches."
Gallardo retired the first two batters in the seventh, but Nick Markakis doubled into the right-field corner and Roenicke summoned reliever Brandon Kintzler. Manny Machado singled to center to score Markakis and when Adam Jones followed with another hit, Kintzler was done.
Lefty Will Smith took over and threw wildly on a pickoff attempt at second, allowing the runners to move up to second and third. Smith stopped it there by striking out Davis on the sweeping slider that has bedeviled left-handed hitters all season, then whiffed the side in the eighth.
"It's incredible to watch this guy," Roenicke said. "Those right-handers, he's throwing breaking balls that they're just not seeing. He's a pretty special guy."
So, it's on to the next third of the season to see what that brings for a team that been a surprise to this point. Do the Brewers have issues to overcome? Of course, but that's the case for every team.
"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."
(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services