The Brewers are hoping their ace can get untracked by continuing his dominance of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee (16-21) has dropped 10 of 12 this month and is 1-4 on this 10-game road trip.
It appeared the Brewers were turning things around after opening this four-game series with Monday's 5-1 win, but they followed that up by squandering a two-run lead to fall 4-3 in 12 innings the next day.
Turning to Gallardo (3-2, 4.70 ERA) would seem to be an ideal chance to bounce back, but he's 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA over his last two starts after concluding April by winning three in a row with a 2.29 ERA.
The final game of that stretch was a 10-4 home win over Pittsburgh (22-17) on April 29, when he allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings opposite Wandy Rodriguez , who is scheduled to oppose him again.
Despite that success, consistency has been an issue for the right-hander. Only three of his eight starts have been quality outings, and he lasted just four innings in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Reds. He gave up three runs and struck out five, but walked a season-high five batters for the second time in four games.
It was his shortest start since being pulled with two outs in the fourth of a loss on opening day of last season to St. Louis, which the Brewers visit for three games this weekend.
"We'll see what happens, but this is too long of a period for him, because he's been so good for so many years, to see him scuffle at times," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's official website. "So we're trying to figure out some things with him.
"We'll get it figured out."
Roenicke is hoping another matchup versus the Pirates can spark Gallardo. He's 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 15 career starts against the NL Central rivals, compiling a 2.05 ERA while winning his last seven decisions over eight starts since a loss at Pittsburgh on Aug. 19, 2009.
Gallardo has been masterful while winning all three visits since, tossing 17 2-3 scoreless innings with 21 strikeouts.
He's also limited Andrew McCutchen to 3 for 15 with a homer since 2011, but the Pirates' star center fielder hit the walkoff homer that decided Tuesday's meeting.
Pittsburgh has won two of three versus Milwaukee after dropping nine straight.
"Everyone knows the success the Brewers have had against us, it's like they have a horseshoe (in their back pocket) every time they play us," McCutchen said. "It's awesome to be able to scratch out a win like this against them."
McCutchen is just 4 for 18 over the past four home meetings with the Brewers, but three of those hits have been homers.
Rodriguez (3-2, 3.62) is 0-2 with an 8.79 ERA over his last three starts against Milwaukee, and he surrendered season highs of seven runs and three homers while issuing four walks in 3 2-3 innings in the loss to Gallardo.
The left-hander had one of his best performances of the season Friday, throwing four scoreless innings before giving up a solo homer and leaving after the sixth of a 7-3 win at New York.
He's 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his last seven home starts, but that defeat came in the latest one - 6-2 to Washington on May 5.
|May 08, 2013||Tom Gorzelanny||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|April 28, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right index finger|
|April 12, 2013||Alex Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 07, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left quad|
|April 07, 2013||Chris Narveson||15-Day DL||Sprained middle finger|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|May 01, 2013||James McDonald||15-Day DL||Right shoulder discomfort|
|April 27, 2013||Travis Snider||Day-to-Day||Left side discomfort|
|April 27, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Right index finger laceration|
|April 27, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Right index finger laceration|
|April 09, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left leg strain|
|March 26, 2013||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Right scapula soreness|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Yovani Gallardo has spent much of his career toying with the Pittsburgh Pirates .
On Wednesday night, the Pirates finally found a way to flip the script on their nemesis.
Neil Walker laced a two-run single off the Milwaukee right-hander in the sixth inning, Wandy Rodriguez pitched seven strong innings and the Pirates beat the Brewers 3-1 on Wednesday.
Gallardo (3-3) came in 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Pirates but was outdueled by Rodriguez and outsmarted by Walker, who guessed right when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
"He has to come to you," Walker said. "He has to throw strikes and if you stay in your own approach and don't go chasing pitchers pitches and more often than not you're going to at least hit a barrel."
When the switch-hitting Walker, batting left-handed, saw the cutter he was expecting, he slapped it up the middle for his first RBIs in nearly a month. The second baseman came off the 15-day disabled list with a hand injury on Monday then gave the Pirates the jolt they needed to post consecutive victories over the Brewers for the first time in nearly four years.
"These are important moving forward for confidence," Walker said. "But being at home here, we feel like it doesn't matter who we play, we need to take advantage of that home field advantage."
The Pirates moved six games above .500 for the first time this season with the victory. Rodriguez (4-2), who was knocked around by the Brewers when he faced them last month, responded by expertly working himself out of trouble spots the first four innings before eventually giving away to Pittsburgh's red-hot bullpen.
Rodriguez (4-2) gave up six hits, walking one and striking out five then watched Jason Grilli worked the ninth for his National League-leading 16th save.
"It was the start we needed, a little bit better than their guy," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Their guy was good too."
Gallardo almost always is when he faces Pittsburgh. He entered the game with a 10-2 lifetime record against the Pirates and was solid enough to make it 11-2 after surrendering three hits over six innings, walking four and striking out four. He just received little help offensively.
Rickie Weeks hit his third homer to provide Milwaukee's only run. Norichika Aoki had two hits for the Brewers but couldn't stop Milwaukee from falling to 2-10 in its last 12 games.
"Guys are giving it all they have," Gallardo said. "It's not like we're trying hard. It's just the way the game is, sometimes. You've just got to keep grinding it out."
Milwaukee has dominated the Pirates over the last six years, winning 73 percent of the meetings between the two clubs and knocked Rodriguez around during his last start against the Brewers two weeks ago.
The left-hander was rocked for seven runs in 4 2-3 innings of an eventual 10-4 loss on April 29.
Things were decidedly smoother this time around.
Working both sides of the plate, Rodriguez kept the Brewers off balance and buckled down when pressed. Milwaukee put runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings but had nothing to show for it.
No missed opportunity loomed larger than the one the Brewers created in the fourth when Jonathan Lucroy led off with a triple to right. Rodriguez induced Carlos Gomez and Weeks to hit harmless infield flies before Alex Gonzalez rolled a routine grounder to shortstop to end the threat.
"He picked it up and laid it down for us and he battled from start to finish," Hurdle said.
Gallardo was just as sharp. Pittsburgh managed just one hit through the first six innings before Starling Marte doubled to center leading off the sixth. Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez worked one out walks to load the bases to set up Walker's tiebreaking single.
The hit ended an 0-for-23 skid with runners in scoring position by the Pirates and was just enough to deal Gallardo a rare loss to Pittsburgh
"The pitch was off the plate and below the knees," Gallardo said. "Sometimes, you've got to tip your cap to the hitter. I threw it where I wanted to throw."
Weeks drew the Brewers within a run in the seventh with a homer to the bleachers in left field off Rodriguez but baseball's best one-two punch out of the bullpen shut the door.
Set-up man Mark Melancon retired the Brewers in order in the eighth and Grilli did the same in the ninth as Pittsburgh remained undefeated (17-0) when leading after seven innings.
The Pirates gave Grilli a little extra cushion in the eighth when McCutchen scored from third after Weeks threw wide of first after making a diving stop on a grounder by Walker.
NOTES: Pittsburgh recalled INF Jordy Mercer on Wednesday after placing John McDonald on the 15-day disabled list with a bad back. Mercer started at shortstop and went 1 for 2 ... The Brewers plan to call up veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez on Thursday. The 31-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers in April. The four-time All-Star went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 78 games with Milwaukee in 2012 ... ... Umpire Fieldin Culbreth worked at third base on Wednesday night. He left Tuesday night's game after being struck in the neck with a ball ... The series concludes on Thursday. Hiram Burgos (1-1, 6.86 ERA) starts for the Brewers against Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.69).