video thumbnail

CIN@MIL: Gomez drills a two-run single in the third

MILWAUKEE -- Reds leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs belted a 10th-inning home run for a 7-6 win over the Brewers on Wednesday at Miller Park, a three-hour and 52-minute affair that gave everyone plenty to parse.

Why did the Brewers pitch to the reigning National League MVP with a base open in the sixth inning? What was their right fielder thinking when he let himself get picked off to end the ninth? Why didn't their closer return for a second inning of work in the decisive 10th?

Legitimate questions. But here's the much more important question ringing all over Milwaukee, from the manager's office at Miller Park to the corner bar down the street:

What in the world is wrong with Yovani Gallardo?

"I think me and Rick [Kranitz, Milwaukee's pitching coach] will have a conversation with him to see how he's doing and find out what's going on," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Because, this isn't 'Yo.'"

Gallado once again looked nothing like the pitcher who shut out the Braves on two hits earlier this month. He allowed six Reds runs on 10 hits and needed 101 pitches for five innings. In four starts since the shutout, he's surrendered 21 earned runs on 35 hits in 21 1/3 innings, and is averaging 20 pitches per inning.

Gallardo was in immediate trouble on Wednesday. Stubbs and Jay Bruce started the game with singles before reigning NL MVP Joey Votto hit a three-run home run, putting Gallardo in a 3-0 hole 10 pitches into his afternoon.

So Gallardo was asked the same question: What's wrong?

"I wish I could tell you," he said. "I don't know. I feel fine. I think it's just a matter of finding that rhythm, I guess."

In his first 84 career starts, Gallardo surrendered five home runs with multiple men on base. Over his last three starts, he's surrendered three. Gallardo allowed a pair of three-run homers against the Nationals on April 17, and then Votto's blast Wednesday.

It's not necessarily a velocity issue. Gallardo's fastball averaged 92.6 mph last season, according to the website, and was right at 92 mph through his first five starts in 2011. On Wednesday, he sat mostly around 91 mph until the fifth batter of the fourth inning, when Brandon Phillips took a 93-mph fastball for a ball.

It was Gallardo's only pitch above 92 mph. He was out of the game two batters into the sixth inning.

"Obviously, we all know it hasn't been a good start for me," he said. "I just have to keep moving forward. I know you guys keep hearing the same thing from me, but I can't go back and change anything."

He made it clear: "I feel 100 percent. There's no issues."

"He's too good to last long doing this," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who handled Gallardo extensively during the pitcher's All-Star 2010 season. "I don't think it's time to hit the panic button or anything. I think he's fine."

Make no mistake, the Brewers are concerned.

"I got more concerned today because I didn't think he had his stuff today," Roenicke said. "That's the first time I think he's gone out there without good stuff. The last three outings were good stuff but no command, and today, he didn't have his command or his stuff."

Roenicke lauded Gallardo for "battling" after the first inning, using more changeups and curveballs to hold the Reds at four runs. That gave the Brewers a chance to tie the game at 4, when Rickie Weeks scored for the second time on a throwing error charged to shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Cue some of those opening questions.

In the sixth, left-handed reliever Mitch Stetter took over from Gallardo with two runners on base, and Jay Bruce executed a sacrifice bunt that opened first base with Votto coming to the plate.

Roenicke could have walked Votto and called for a right-hander to face Brandon Phillips with the bases loaded. Instead, Votto delivered a two-run single, only the second hit in 14 at-bats by left-handed hitters against Stetter this season.

"I don't want to load the bases and bring in a guy from the bullpen," Roenicke said. "If I'm bringing in a Kameron Loe, somebody that we know is not going to walk anybody and is really locked in, it's a little bit different. It was too early to bring him in that game.

"So, I thought about it, but I don't like to do that to a reliever. You throw Ball 1, and now you're in trouble because you can't hit a corner now. You have to throw it over the plate. And Phillips has been killing us."

The Brewers tied the game at 6 with two runs in the bottom of the inning, and it remained tied in the eighth, when the Brewers appeared poised to push ahead.

They had runners at second and third with one out when Reds manager Dusty Baker called for left-handed flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, even though the Brewers had three right-handed hitters coming up. Chapman hit Weeks with a pitch to load the bases, but he struck out Carlos Gomez on a slider and induced a groundout from red-hot Ryan Braun.

Braun finished 0-for-4 but he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning to set a franchise record. He has reached base safely in each of the Brewers' first 24 games, breaking Robin Yount's record set in 1983.

In the ninth, right-fielder Corey Hart managed the only Brewers hit off Chapman, a single to left field. Hart had two hits in his first start off the disabled list, but he was promptly picked off first base to send the game into extra innings.

Roenicke took the blame, saying Hart either missed a sign or was looking for a sign.

"We just loaded too much information to him at a time when he is newly with us and on base," Roenicke said.

On to the 10th inning, when Sergio Mitre (0-1) trotted in to pitch for the second time since he was struck on the right triceps by a line drive last week. He had looked very rusty in his first outing back, and closer John Axford had only thrown 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth inning after a 13-pitch save Tuesday night.

But Roenicke decided against using Axford for a second inning.

"He's been in four out of five days now," Roenicke said. "I just didn't want to do that to him."

Mitre recorded one out before Stubbs homered to straightaway center field.

"We fought hard for it," Baker said. "They fought hard for it. You know they're not going to quit, especially with the offense they have. We're not going to quit with the offense we have. We're pretty evenly matched. That was a good game to win." Comments