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Brewers recap 5/29

May 29, 2010 Comments off

Hart pumps two more homers to beat Mets

MILWAUKEE — Less than 24 hours removed from his first career walk-off home run, Corey Hart picked up right where he left off on Saturday night.

With two home runs and six RBIs on the night, Hart carried the Brewers to an 8-6 victory over the Mets at Miller Park.

Hart crushed a 1-1 slider in the first from Mets starter Fernando Nieve (1-3), a no-doubter over the bullpen in left for his first career grand slam. Two innings later, Hart drove an 0-1 pitch from Oliver Perez out to left, a two-run shot, for his third homer in as many at-bats.

After hitting just three home runs over the first six weeks of the season, Hart has nine blasts and 19 RBIs in his last 14 games.

“I didn’t even want to sit down next to him, these uniforms are hot enough,” Brewers manager Ken Macha joked. “Guys kept telling me when he gets hot, he can carry the club. Well, he’s been doing that as of late.”

On Negro League Tribute Night at Miller Park, with the Brewers wearing the uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears and the Mets dressed as the New York Cubans, Hart became the 15th hitter in franchise history to belt homers in three consecutive at-bats and the first to do so since Geoff Jenkins’ three-homer game on May 21, 2003.

His six RBIs tied a career high for Hart, who leads the team with 12 home runs on the season. It was also his eighth career multi-homer game and second during his current hot streak.

“It’s all Dale,” said Hart, referring to Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. “Dale’s worked really hard to change some things around for me and help my mindset. What he did is help me get the ball in the air.

“I’ve had stretches where I’ve hit balls hard, but now the ones I’m hitting are getting good backspin and they’re carrying. I keep doing what he’s telling me, and so far it’s working.”

Nieve (1-3) took the loss for the Mets, as he lasted just two innings, surrendering five runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

But after Hart put the Brewers up, 7-3, with his second homer in the third inning, the Brewers, too, had to go the rest of the way with the bullpen on the mound.

Starter Manny Parra lasted just three innings for the Brewers, giving up three runs on six hits with three walks — one intentional — and two strikeouts.

“I was just out of sync,” Parra said. “It made it really hard to command my fastball. … For me, my game is commanding my fastball. I do that and I’ll be just fine. But the days like today where I’m out of sync and struggling with the fastball command, it’s going to make for a tough day.”

Fortunately for the Brewers, three members of their bullpen delivered excellent performances on the night.

After Marco Estrada relieved Parra and proceeded to allow three runs on one hit and one walk in just 1 2/3 innings, Todd Coffey (2-1) came in and shut the Mets down. But things didn’t start so smoothly for the reliever.

Before he threw his first pitch, Coffey was forced to switch gloves because the color of the glove — which he’s been using all season — was too light, clashing with the Bears uniform. After being tipped off by Mets manager Jerry Manuel, the umpires approached Coffey and asked him to make the switch.

“It was light, a little bit too close to the colors of the uniform,” Manuel said. “I told [the umpires] before he came in. I saw him warming up in the ‘pen with it and thought it was a little light. I should have let him keep the other one though, right?”

As Manuel joked, the glove didn’t matter, as Coffey (2-1) threw 2 1/3 scoreless, striking out three while keeping the Mets off the basepaths.

Coffey entered with the bases loaded in the fifth. Upon getting Jason Bay to ground out to second to end the inning, Coffey started a string of 13 straight batters retired by Brewers relievers to close out the game.

Carlos Villanueva pitched a clean eighth with two strikeouts as the setup man on the night, and John Axford needed just 14 pitches in the ninth for his second save of the season.

“It’s huge,” Parra said of the bullpen’s performance. “It’s great to win this ballgame. We came out firing, scoring a lot of runs. So it was just great that we were able to win that game [and] put a lot of confidence in this clubhouse. I think we’re starting to play a lot better.”

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 5/28

May 28, 2010 Comments off

Walk-off homer caps Gallardo’s shutout

MILWAUKEE — If ever there were a game that could turn the Brewers’ season around, Yovani Gallardo pitched it Friday night against the Mets.

But it wouldn’t have happened without right fielder Corey Hart, who crushed a 1-1 offering from Ryota Igarashi into the bullpen in left for the 2-0 victory and the Brewers’ second walk-off win in two nights at Miller Park.

Gallardo (5-2) delivered an absolute gem of a performance, pitching his first career shutout and second career complete game. As he scattered eight hits and struck out seven while walking one, Gallardo outlasted one of the best lefties in the game in Johan Santana.

Gallardo dialed up the velocity as high as 94 mph in the ninth, but he credited his ability to stay relaxed on the mound for getting him through a 121-pitch complete game.

“Not trying to overthrow is the main thing for me,” Gallardo said. “We all know I have that tendency to try to do a little bit too much in certain situations. But I was able to stay under control and make pitches whenever I needed.”

In his last three outings, Gallardo settled for no-decisions, despite going six innings in each and giving up an average of just over two runs per game.

But Gallardo was not the only one who pitched well on the night. Santana threw eight scoreless innings for the Mets, giving up just three hits and two walks while walking five.

After throwing 105 pitches, Santana was pulled in the ninth in favor of the Mets’ bullpen.

“Once he had doubled, [and] fought through the eighth, I didn’t think it would be a good move,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of leaving Santana in for the ninth, with Prince Fielder up to bat. “Fielder, I thought he was seeing it pretty good, anyway. I didn’t want to chance him losing that ballgame after the way he had performed.”

For the Brewers’ hitters, the end of Santana’s night was a welcome sight.

“Obviously he’s been known to throw upwards of 120 pitches, and I don’t think he was that high,” Hart said. “For us, it was a little comforting to get a few new guys in there to see if we could handle those guys.”

Hart’s home run was his team-leading 10th of the season, but much like Gallardo would not have gotten the shutout victory without his homer, Hart wouldn’t have even batted in the ninth had it not been for the hustle of Ryan Braun two batters earlier.

Braun grounded a ball up the middle and beat it out for a one-out infield single. Following him was third baseman Casey McGehee, who popped out to the first baseman for the second out of the inning.

“Give Brauny some credit,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “He hits that ball up the middle and runs it out. Otherwise, it’d have been our third out [and] it would’ve turned the inning over. [But] then Corey gets a pitch to win the game.”

Gallardo’s last complete game, a 5-2 win for the Brewers over the Astros, came on April 24, 2009. Its significance is much higher, however, when considering no Brewers pitcher had gone the distance since.

According to Macha, it was Gallardo’s command of his fastball that helped him last all nine innings, as it got him out of several tough situations.

In the fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings, Gallardo ended the inning with a strikeout, with the last three looking. Each time, Gallardo ended the inning with a fastball.

“He was throwing everything for strikes,” catcher George Kottaras said. “Throwing that velocity in the late innings is impressive as well, but … it’s also how he got to those pitches in those sequences. He was throwing his breaking ball and his changeup for strikes … and just kept them guessing.”

A few times in the Brewers’ recent slump, Macha has talked about not being able to get over the hump. In doing so, he referenced that when one thing went right, another went wrong.

Friday night, despite the lack of offense, the Brewers played as well as they have all season.

As great as Gallardo’s pitching was, the defense behind him bailed him out in a few tough spots, turning double plays in the third and the eighth innings. The first, which started with second baseman Rickie Weeks, ended the inning after the Mets had the bases loaded with none out one batter earlier.

In the eighth, the Brewers went around the horn to get the first two outs of the inning and save a run, as Santana batted next and crushed a double to the gap in right.

With so much going right in a thrilling win, they may have finally gotten over the hump.

“Those guys are pretty excited in there,” Macha said, referring to his players in the clubhouse. “It should do a lot of things as far as getting people over the hump.”

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