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Brewers beat 5/29

May 29, 2010 Comments off

No worries about Gallardo’s pitch count

MILWAUKEE — A day after he pitched his first career shutout, Yovani Gallardo remained a topic of conversation in manager Ken Macha’s pregame media session.

Gallardo, who kept the Mets off the board all night while scattering eight hits, impressed all those in attendance on Friday night, including his manager.

“Last night, that’s as good as I’ve seen him throw, ever,” Macha said.

One of the concerns brought up about Gallardo, though, was the high pitch total in the game. Gallardo threw 121 pitches over nine innings, marking his third game in May that he’s thrown 120 or more pitches.

It was the first of the three in which Gallardo has gone nine innings, however, with the other two outings being 121 pitches over seven innings in a win at San Diego and 120 deliveries over six innings in a no-decision at Cincinnati.

With the length of the outing in mind, and the fact that Gallardo had a chance at his first career shutout, Macha was not worried about letting his pitch count go over 120 for the third time in less than a month.

“If I’d have taken him out of the game, there were probably 31,000 people here that would have had me on the rail, tarred and feathered,” Macha said. “The 120 pitches, that was over nine innings, instead of being like seven. Those other ones were shorter.”

Kottaras moved up to second in order

MILWAUKEE — Upon learning he had been moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Brewers’ lineup, even George Kottaras was surprised by the decision.

“I did? They changed the lineup?” Kottaras asked. “I came in and they had me batting eighth.”

Kottaras, who has become the team’s No. 1 catcher since Gregg Zaun went on the disabled list a week ago, has just a .224 batting average. But his on-base percentage is more than 200 points higher, at an impressive .425.

Despite originally listing him eighth, manager Ken Macha, after further consideration, swapped Kottaras with center fielder Carlos Gomez, who batted seventh.

“His on-base percentage is .425,” Macha said, referring to Kottaras. “I think he’s done a great job in the eighth spot getting a lot of walks and turning the lineup over quite a bit. … So we’ll see how this works out. George’s got some power, maybe he’ll get some balls to hit and hit some home runs too.”

Kottaras hit a solo home run in the second inning on Saturday.

When asked about the last time he had batted as high as second in the lineup, Kottaras recalled the exact game.

“I had just gotten traded from San Diego to Boston [in September 2006],” Kottaras said. “We went to the Double-A playoffs and they batted me second. I went 2-for-4, I had a home run and I stole a base.”

Vargas designated for assignment

MILWAUKEE — While much of the pregame discussion centered around his replacement, right-handed reliever Claudio Vargas received some well wishes from Brewers manager Ken Macha.

Vargas, who re-signed with the Brewers during the offseason after being traded from the Dodgers before last year’s deadline, was designated for assignment on Saturday as the Brewers needed to make room on the roster for lefty Chris Capuano.

Through 17 appearances on the season, Vargas is 1-0 with a 7.32 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. Vargas struggled to keep opposing hitters off base, sporting a 1.932 WHIP.

With Vargas likely headed elsewhere, Macha was hopeful for his future.

“He’s a terrific person,” Macha said. “It’s a little bit of a sad day. If he wants to continue playing, I hope he winds up catching on with somebody.”

Worth noting

The Brewers and Mets honored the Negro Leagues on Saturday night by wearing uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears and New York Cubans. … The Brewers have won consecutive games in walk-off fashion for the first time since June 17-18, 2006, vs. Cleveland. … The last Brewers walk-off home run that resulted in a shutout victory also came that season when Geoff Jenkins hit a solo home run to to give the Brewers a 1-0 win over St. Louis on Sept. 20, 2006. … The shutout Friday by Yovani Gallardo was the Brewers’ first since Ben Sheets shut out San Diego on Sept 6, 2008, and the first complete game since Gallardo’s on April 24, 2009, at Houston. … Brewers pitchers tied a franchise record Friday with their ninth consecutive game without allowing a home run. The starting pitchers also tied a record for 12 games without allowing a homer in a season. Both records were established in 1976. … The Brewers are the only team in the Majors to have not given up a home run since May 19.

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

Brewers recap 5/15

May 16, 2010 Comments off

Narveson solid, but bullpen allows six runs

MILWAUKEE — After losing their seventh straight at home, the Brewers are beginning to run out of answers for their struggles.

Lefty Chris Narveson threw a Major League-high 130 pitches on Saturday, but lasted just 5 2/3 innings as the Phillies beat the Brewers, 10-6, at Miller Park.

Phillies starter Joe Blanton, on the other hand, was efficient through six before giving up three runs on two hits in the seventh. Blanton (1-2) picked up his first win of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing five runs on six hits while striking out five.

Team meetings with the manager are rare for the Brewers, but after yet another loss, Ken Macha got his team together for a short pep talk, as he hoped to keep his team positive after a tough week so far at home.

“We’re going through a rough patch here and the only way to do it is to fight our way out of it,” Macha said. “These guys are going to battle all the way. That’s what we did, and we’re going to have to battle our way out of it.

With starters struggling to pitch more than six innings a game, the bullpen has already been worn out to the point of needing to call up an additional arm from Triple-A in John Axford. The offense has been inconsistent, but even when it has scored five or more runs, as it has in each game against the Phillies, the pitching staff allows twice as many.

On the homestand, the Brewers have surrendered 9.4 runs per game, with 26 runs allowed by the bullpen in just five games.

Narveson (3-1) surrendered four runs on eight hits while striking out nine and walking three. Things didn’t get out of hand though until Narveson was removed with two outs in the sixth after hitting Chase Utley with a pitch.

With 130 pitches in the game, Narveson threw the most by a Brewers pitcher since CC Sabathia threw 130 against the Astros on Aug. 18, 2008. Prior to that, the last Brewers pitcher to eclipse the 130-pitch mark was Jamey Wright on Aug. 30, 2000.

“Sometimes you have to extend yourself, try to get the out,” Narveson said. “I really wasn’t looking at the pitch count. I knew that in the first couple innings I had to throw a lot more pitches than I wanted to. [But] I knew I had to go a little bit deeper in the game — I wanted to go deeper in the game.”

It was another case of the Brewers handcuffed by their pitching woes.

Macha likely would have preferred to remove Narveson around the 100-pitch mark, but with his bullpen being so overworked and performing so poorly lately, he gave the young left-hander an extra inning.

But in the sixth, Narveson allowed a two-run home run to Shane Victorino, leaving the Brewers down 4-1 as he exited.

When Vargas followed Narveson, the Brewers hoped he could repeat his performance from the previous night, when he needed just eight pitches for one inning of relief. Instead, Vargas was tagged for five runs on five hits in just one-third of an inning pitched as Philadelphia opened up a 9-2 lead.

“I thought Narveson did an outstanding job today,” Macha said. “Then we had a little letdown there in the seventh. The seventh inning kind of blew up on us.”

With the way the Brewers battled back to cut the lead to just four runs in the ninth, they likely could have won had Vargas not allowed the Phillies to blow the game open.

But as the Brewers dropped to 4-13 at Miller Park this season, Macha doesn’t want anybody pointing fingers while the team continues to struggle at home.

“We’ve got to pull together and continue to root for each other and continue to work hard,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get ourselves out of this jam.”

Offensively, the Brewers hit three home runs for the second consecutive night, this time off the bats of Prince Fielder, Alcides Escobar and Corey Hart. Fielder and Escobar each hit solo home runs, leading off the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Hart, who was 2-for-4 on the day with a season-high four RBIs, hit the first pitch he saw from Blanton in the seventh out to left-center, bringing the Brewers within five. His double in the ninth made it a four-run game and set up a dramatic finish.

Still, as close as they made it in the ninth, the Brewers struck out twice to end the game, taking their fifth straight loss overall as Jose Contreras picked up his first career save.

“It’s frustrating because we keep looking up and we keep getting reminded how bad we are at home right now,” Hart said. “You want to get out there and get the early leads and try to get something going and it’s been hard for us to get anything going lately.”

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