Yovani Gallardo has acknowledged he's in the midst of the toughest stretch of his major league career.
A start against the Houston Astros - a team wrapping up its worst month in franchise history - could be just what he needs.
Gallardo looks to continue his dominance in the series Tuesday night and send the sputtering Astros to their 27th loss in 30 games.
The Brewers (46-56) scored four runs in both the seventh and eighth innings in Monday's opener and hung on for an 8-7 victory - just their second in 11 games.
"We've had so many games like this that have gone against us," Corey Hart told the Brewers' official website. "Maybe this is the momentum we need."
While Hart is looking for something positive to build on, Milwaukee essentially conceded the season by sending Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. That trade leaves Gallardo (8-8, 4.07 ERA) in charge of leading the rotation, but he hasn't looked the part lately.
After allowing four runs and a season-high nine hits in 5 2-3 innings in a 6-2 loss to Cincinnati on July 21, Gallardo was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in five innings in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Washington.
This is a stark contrast from his previous four starts, in which he had a 1.40 ERA. That stretch included a win at Houston on July 6, when he gave up one run and four hits in six innings of a 7-1 victory.
That outing is indicative of Gallardo's mastery over the Astros (35-69), who at 3-23 are already assured of finishing July with their lowest winning percentage for a single month in franchise history. The right-hander has won his last eight starts in the series since losing Aug. 9, 2009, and has an 0.86 ERA in the last three.
To extend the winning streak, however, Gallardo might have to rely on a beleaguered bullpen to protect a potential lead.
The Brewers, who dismissed bullpen coach Stan Kyles before Monday's game, have a 9.24 ERA from their relief pitchers in their last eight contests. In the opener, Livan Hernandez and Kameron Loe gave up four runs in 1 1-3 innings before once-demoted closer John Axford got the final two outs to drop the Astros to 3-26 since July 30.
Braun, who leads the NL with 28 home runs but is mired in a 2-for-17 slump, is expected to be back in the lineup as the Brewers get their first look at rookie Dallas Keuchel (1-3, 4.63).
Keuchel was impressive in his first three major league starts - posting a 1.35 ERA - but he has been anything but in his last three - recording a 9.00 ERA while losing each. Against Pittsburgh on Thursday, the left-hander permitted five runs and five hits - including three homers - in six innings of a 5-3 final. One positive to take from the outing, though, is he settled down after allowing all the runs in the first two innings."He was able to right himself and keep it right there until the end," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "He did a good job of keeping it right there and making some adjustments as he was moving forward."
|July 15, 2012||Jed Lowrie||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 14, 2012||Jed Lowrie||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|July 08, 2012||Jason Castro||15-Day DL||Fluid in right knee|
|June 26, 2012||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in left ankle|
|June 26, 2012||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in left ankle|
|June 24, 2012||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The way things have been going for the Milwaukee Brewers ' bullpen, manager Ron Roenicke figures his relievers have enough to overcome without having to deal with umpires' missed calls.
So when home plate umpire Brian Knight threw Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron out of the game for arguing a call, Roenicke was going to say what was on his mind - and it didn't matter one bit that the Brewers were winning by nine runs in the ninth inning at the time.
Roenicke got thrown out, too, but the Brewers still beat the Houston Astros 10-1 on Tuesday night.
"That's a really poor job by the umpire," Roenicke said. "He missed the call. He flat-out missed the call. He told me it was high, and it wasn't even close to being high. And so Jerry gets thrown out. So I go out there and I tell him, and he says, `You're yelling at me in a 10-1 ballgame.' I said, `I don't care what the score is. I've got a pitcher out there that's working as hard as he can.' And I said, `You blow a call and you throw my guy out.' And he throws me out for that. That's a poor job by him."
Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each hit a three-run homer.
Ramirez had three hits and four RBIs, including his 13th homer of the season in the third inning. Hart hit his three-run shot in the fifth, his 20th homer.
Ramirez and Hart were mentioned as possible trade targets going into Tuesday afternoon's non-waiver trade deadline, but both players remained in Milwaukee.
"I would hate to be without either one of them," Roenicke said.
Ramirez said he wasn't thrown off by trade talk.
"I've been around long enough," Ramirez said. "I knew this is a business."
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (9-8) went seven innings, giving up one run and three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. And this time he wasn't betrayed by the team's leaky bullpen, as Jim Henderson got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth.
Gallardo was coming off a rough outing in which he gave up seven runs in five innings against the Washington Nationals .
Gallardo wanted to pitch one more inning, and Roenicke almost let him.
"We all know it's been tough," Gallardo said. "As far as myself, I try to go out there and go as deep as I can."
Chris Snyder hit his fifth home run of the season for Houston.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel (1-4) struggled, and was charged with seven runs and seven hits in four-plus innings with six walks.
"What was tough was Dallas' command," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He had the six walks in those four innings and that's tough. And then working behind in the count. It's along the same lines as his last outing, as well. It's definitely something we're going to work on. We thought we had some things addressed but we need to go back and readdress those issues."
Ryan Braun returned to the lineup after missing Monday night's game with blisters on his hand.
After Norichika Aoki led off the first with a single and Braun took a one-out walk, the Brewers used a double steal to put runners on second and third. Ramirez singled to score Aoki and give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
With runners on first and third with one out in the second, Gallardo laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, allowing Weeks to score from third for a 2-0 lead - and the Astros weren't able to throw Gallardo out at first, leaving runners on first and second with one out.
But Aoki hit into a double play to end the inning, and Snyder led off the third with a homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Brewers broke the game open in the third, when Carlos Gomez doubled, Braun walked and Ramirez hit a three-run homer. Keuchel issued another pair of walks before getting Cody Ransom to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Milwaukee ended its first three innings on double plays but still led 5-1.
Keuchel gave up singles to Braun and Ramirez to start the fifth, and was taken out of the game. Reliever Chuckie Fick then gave up the three-run homer to Hart and the Brewers led 8-1.
Fick hit Gomez with a pitch in the left wrist in the sixth, and Gomez briefly looked like he was going to charge the mound. But Gomez - who also was hit Monday night - quickly calmed down and took first base.
Brewers reliever Jim Henderson loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, then struck out Brett Wallace to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Nyjer Morgan added a two-run single in the ninth.
NOTES: After trading away ace pitcher Zack Greinke last week, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said things weren't active at the trade deadline Tuesday. "I didn't have any phone calls at all from a general manager all day," Melvin said. Melvin did not rule out potential activity in August, when players have to pass through waivers to be traded. ... Mills said before the game he doesn't intend to formally name a closer for now, but wants to give Wilton Lopez get a shot at the role.