Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gallardo pitches a gem on the road

Every now and then, you get away with one.

To hear Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Cordero, he got away with a big no-no - a hanging slider in the ninth inning Tuesday night to Cincinnati slugger Ken Griffey Jr., whose potential game-tying drive was caught at the wall by rightfielder Kevin Mench.

"I don't believe anybody in the ballpark thought that was staying in," said Cordero, who notched his major league-best 32nd save. "I know I didn't. And I looked at Ken Griffey. I know he didn't, either."

With that bit of good fortune, the Brewers hung on for a 5-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park, a rewarding turnabout from a tough 12-inning defeat the previous evening.

The victory allowed the Brewers to maintain their three-game lead in the NL Central over Chicago, a 4-3 winner in St. Louis.

"You can't get freaked out (by tough losses)," said manager Ned Yost. "You better stay steady. They have convinced me they have that trait. I don't worry about it anymore."

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, already impressive in so many ways, gave yet another reason for the Brewers to believe he'll hold up to the scrutiny of replacing injured ace Ben Sheets.

Gallardo did not have his Grade A stuff and found himself rushing in the early going, but he made adjustments as if he were a 31-year-old veteran, not a 21-year-old rookie.

"The first three innings, I was in too much of a hurry," said Gallardo (3-1), who nevertheless kept the Reds off the board until the seventh inning. "I was trying to do too much.

"After that, I got back in a rhythm and made quality pitches. By the fourth inning, I kind of settled down, relaxed a little and pitched my game."

Behind 6 2/3 innings of gritty work by Gallardo, the Brewers bolted to a 4-0 lead against Cincinnati starter Matt Belisle. It took a great catch by Griffey in right field in the second inning to hold Damian Miller to a sacrifice fly and the Brewers to one run.

Griffey also made a diving catch in the corner in the third to turn a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit by Craig Counsell into a double play.

"Griffey saved them two or three runs," said Yost. "I mean, they were great catches, not routine catches. You almost catch yourself saying bad words when he makes those catches."

The Brewers scored three times in the fourth to knock Belisle from the game. Ryan Braun led off with a single and scored when Prince Fielder tripled high off the wall in left, a drive that barely eluded leaping Adam Dunn.

Kevin Mench went down swinging, but Geoff Jenkins yanked a double into the right-field corner to collect his first RBI since July 5 in Pittsburgh. Miller walked, Tony Gwynn Jr. bounced into a force at second and Gallardo helped his cause with an RBI single to center, chasing Belisle.

Brian Shouse helped bail Gallardo out in the seventh after Scott Hatteberg put the Reds on the board with a run-scoring double. But Derrick Turnbow found nothing but trouble in the eighth, allowing a two-run homer to Dunn and retiring none of the three hitters he faced.

But Carlos Villanueva, another impressive young right-hander, took over and retired the side, striking out the last two hitters. Villanueva had scuffled of late (11.00 ERA in six outings) but was glad to pick up Turnbow and keep his club on top.

Read More Here from Tom Haudricourt's article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

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