Baseball / Sports

Gallardo, Brewers beat Pirates 1-0

PITTSBURGH -- The Milwaukee Brewers' 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park was a definite nod to their pitching.

In a game that had a definite playoff feel to it, starter Yovani Gallardo threw a season-high 121 pitches in battling through seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and a run while striking out eight.

Rob Wooten got the first two outs of the eighth inning, and then closer Francisco Rodriguez took over to record a four-out save -- his first since 2011 -- as the Brewers beat the Pirates for the 10th time in 13 meetings this season.

"K-Rod" walked two in the ninth, only to record the final two outs and notch his 19th save. Offensively, Jonathan Lucroy had three of the Brewers' four hits, and Aramis Ramirez drove in the lone run in the seventh with a groundout.

Rodriguez agreed afterward it was perhaps the most rousing victory of the season to date for Milwaukee.

"It feels nice," Rodriguez said. "One of them, definitely. Yo did a tremendous job. He battled in the seventh inning and came out on top. It was huge. I ran into a little trouble, but I ended up making the right pitches and got out of it.

"It's a nice win."

One of the game's biggest moments occurred in the opening inning, after the Brewers went down in order for the first time against Pirates starter Jeff Locke.

With one out, Gallardo (4-4) hit Neil Walker with a pitch and then gave up a single to Andrew McCutchen, whose rip to center glanced off the top of Rickie Weeks' glove.

Cleanup hitter Gaby Sanchez followed with a fly ball to right that Walker tagged on, only to be thrown out at home plate on a beautiful throw by Ryan Braun.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle asked home-plate umpire Ed Hickox if Lucroy was blocking the plate. After a conference, Hickox decided to review it without Hurdle using a challenge. And in 2 minutes, 48 seconds, the call at home was upheld after it was determined Lucroy wasn't in the wrong.

Had Hurdle challenged that Walker was safe, he might well have had the call overturned as replays appeared to show Walker's foot sliding in ahead of the tag.

"I know I tagged him high, but the umpire said he was out," Lucroy said. "He said I did everything fine, I just tagged him high, but I tagged him before he got there. That's what the umpire said."

Locke, who came in 1-1 with a 5.66 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers, pitched a perfect three innings before giving up consecutive two-out singles to Lucroy and Carlos Gomez.

However, Ramirez was unable to drive them in.

Gallardo scuffled early with his command, hitting two batters and walking another, but through six innings he'd racked up a season-high-tying seven strikeouts in a 0-0 game.

Milwaukee finally broke through for the game's lone run in the seventh.

Lucroy led off with a tailing liner down the left-field line that he initially thought was foul, but the ball landed fair. He didn't start running until halfway down the line and wound up at second with a ground-rule double when a Pirates fan reached over the railing and grabbed the ball.

Gomez moved Lucroy up to third with a fly ball to center and a groundout to first by Ramirez scored Lucroy to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

"Whenever you hit a ball foul, you almost always know it's going to go foul," Lucroy said. "That ball was hooking and it just went straight down. It was a weird thing."

Pittsburgh battled back in the bottom of the frame.

Russell Martin led off with a bloop single to left, and Pedro Alvarez reached when Ramirez threw to second on his grounder only to have Martin slide in safely. Martin went to third on a Starling Marte fly ball, and Jordy Mercer reached on a bunt when Weeks failed to cover first, loading the bases.

But Gallardo buckled down from there, striking out pinch-hitter Jose Tabata and retiring Harrison on a pop fly to first to escape a major jam.

"Yo, outstanding," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Just hung in there and made some great pitches. Got better as the game went on. The last 3-4 innings, I thought, 'That's the Yo that we're used to seeing, making one good pitch after another.' "

With the Brewers still clinging to that 1-0 lead, Wooten got the call in the eighth and retired Walker before McCutchen doubled to center. He moved up to third on a groundout by Sanchez that Wooten deflected to Weeks, putting the tying run at third with two outs.

Manager RonRoenicke made the call to Rodriguez, and he struck out Martin looking. Martin and Hurdle were both ejected by Hickox in the aftermath by home-plate umpire Ed Hickox, with Martin slamming both his bat and helmet to the ground in anger.

"Luc made that pitch look not as good as it probably was because I think he was trying to block or decide where the ball was going to end up," Roenicke said. "But if you go back, this thing needs to even out some. Go back and look at all the inside pitches that were definitely off the plate, how many of those they got during that ball game. It's a lot.

"It's way more pitches than we got."

A two-out double by Lucroy was wasted in the top of the ninth, and Rodriguez opened the ninth by getting Alvarez to ground out before walking both Marte and pinch-hitter Ike Davis.

Pinch-hitter Travis Snider was robbed of a hit, with Segura making a terrific diving grab on a shot up the middle and tossing to second for the out. Then with runners on the corners and two outs, Harrison hit a soft fly to center that Gomez tracked down for the final out.

"It's big," said Gallardo of the victory.

"Obviously, they have a good team on the other side, and being in the same division, you always want to win those close games. It took an all-around effort. That line drive up the middle, it's a whole different ball game after that, but (Segura) was able to dive for it and catch it. Also, Frankie coming in for a four-out save.

"It was huge."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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