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Braves recap 5/12

May 12, 2010

Braves finish road trip strong, sweep Crew

MILWAUKEE — It may not be quite what they were looking for when it started, but after losing four of six in Washington and Philadelphia, the Braves are happy to be going back to Atlanta with a winning road trip.

Thanks to great pitching, excellent defense and some clutch hitting, the Braves ran away with a 9-2 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday at Miller Park

With the win, the Braves completed their first road series sweep of the season, outscoring the Brewers, 28-7, over three games. Atlanta’s only previous road series victory came April 12-15 when they took two of three in San Diego.

The Braves last swept the Brewers in a three-game series from July 30-Aug. 1, 2002, in Atlanta, with their last sweep in Milwaukee coming June 1-3, 1998.

“We had a great road trip,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You need to have confidence, get a little swagger back. It helps a lot knowing that you can get rallies, get runs in, make pitches. We’ve played really well. Our defense has been terrific.”

Right-hander Derek Lowe (5-3) delivered the Braves’ third consecutive quality start in the series, pitching six strong innings while allowing just two runs on six hits.

Lowe, who had been touched up for a season-high 11 hits in his last outing in Philadelphia, did not allow a hit through the first four innings, while facing just one over the minimum.

According to Lowe, a mentality change allowed him to shut down the Brewers, who had been swinging the bats as well as anyone in baseball entering the series.

“I think there comes a game where you have to assess your game,” Lowe said. “The whole ‘I’m going to throw every pitch away’ game gets kind of predictable and old. … The Philly game really just opened my eyes.”

Lowe used both sides of the plate effectively against the Brewers, striking out two while only walking a pair. He also said he used more changeups in the game than he had all year.

His counterpart, Brewers righty Yovani Gallardo, delivered a strong pitching performance of his own, keeping the game tight through six innings.

Gallardo threw his fifth quality start of the season, going six innings while allowing two runs on five hits. He also walked three and struck out six as Gallardo settled for a no-decision.

“He pitched good. You look at the way he’s been pitching and it’s phenomenal,” Lowe said of Gallardo. “It’s a 2-2 game there going into the seventh inning.”

When asked before Wednesday’s game what his team needed to do to be successful against Gallardo, Cox answered honestly, saying he didn’t know. His best game plan was to “make him make mistakes,” and “if he makes a mistake, hit it.”

So when Gallardo’s day was done after six innings, Cox and the Braves were happy to see the Brewers relievers.

“He’s good. You don’t care if you don’t face him or not, that’s for sure,” Cox said of Gallardo. “If you can miss him you’re better off.”

With Gallardo out, the Braves lit up the Brewers’ bullpen for the second straight game, scoring seven runs on seven hits and two walks over the final three innings. In the final two games of the series, Milwaukee’s relievers allowed 15 runs on 16 hits in six innings, compared to its starters, who gave up just five runs on 12 hits in 12 innings.

After scoring their first two runs of the game on two-out RBIs by first baseman Troy Glaus and left fielder Eric Hinske, the Braves struck twice more with two outs again in the seventh. Right fielder Jason Heyward delivered a two-out double down the right-field line, plating pinch-hitter Matt Diaz for what proved to be the eventual game-winning run.

Heyward finished 1-for-3 on the night with a pair of walks, a stolen base, an RBI and three runs scored.

“Jason makes our team immediately better, and I think he’d make every team in the big leagues immediately better,” said Diaz.

An inning later, the Braves began to pour it on the Brewers as third baseman Brooks Conrad delivered the knockout punch with a two-run blast, making it 6-2 with his second eighth-inning homer in as many games.

Conrad, who started a second consecutive game in place of Chipper Jones and finished 2-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs, was just happy to contribute as much as he did in the sweep.

“It feels great,” Conrad said. “You’ve just got to stay ready for when your time comes. Any time you get a chance to get in there and help the team win, it’s a great feeling. So, I just had fun with it, and it turned out great. I had fun.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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