Offense backs Gallardo’s career-high 15th win

The magic number for the Brewers this year just keeps getting better and better. That’s something I haven’t been able to say very often over the course of the past few years.

The Brewers defeated the Cubs today, 6-4, and have taken the series from the Cubs at Miller Park. The win set a few milestones for this season- first off, the Brewers won their 80th game, something they failed to do in 2010 during a disappointing 77-85 campaign. They’ve become the second team in the National League this year to win 80 games (the Phillies were the first). The second milestone was Yovani Gallardo’s 15th win of 2011, which sets a new career high for him.

Gallardo had a great start tonight, going seven innings while giving up one run (none earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out 10. The only two walks he gave up came in a seventh inning in which he got into a bases loaded jam, but struck out the side to get out of it. It was also Gallardo’s second 10-strikeout game of 2011, and both of them have come against the Cubs.

Ryan Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a RBI double off Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. A few batters later, Casey McGehee crushed his 11th homer of the year with Braun still on second to give the Brewers an early 3-0 lead against Dempster, who typically dominates the Brewers.

Alfonso Soriano got the Cubs on the board in the second with a RBI single, but it was unearned towards Gallardo because of an error he committed earlier in the inning. It was an odd play, actually- Carlos Pena, the Cubs’ cleanup hitter, was down 0-2 against Gallardo, then he laid down a bunt that Gallardo clearly wasn’t expecting. So I almost don’t blame him for not making the play- how often do you see a cleanup hitter lay down a bunt, especially on an 0-2 count?

Anyway, the Brewers answered back in the bottom of the second on Corey Hart’s RBI triple. They also scored in the third on Prince Fielder’s mammoth solo homer. Then, in the seventh, the Brewers tacked on one more on Hart’s solo home run. Hart finished a single shy of the cycle, which isn’t something you hear too often, because you’d think a single is the easiest to get.

But, LaTroy Hawkins practically blew the Brewers’ 6-1 lead in the eighth inning. He loaded the bases, then gave up a base-clearing double to Soriano. Francisco Rodriguez came in and bailed him out of the inning after that, however. That set the stage for John Axford’s 36th consecutive save (39th overall) in the ninth inning.

Taylor Green arrived at Miller Park today, but hasn’t gotten his first Major League at-bat yet. He was in the dugout, and I assume he was available to pinch-hit. But, he wasn’t needed, since the Cubs used all left-handed relievers and Green is a left-handed batter himself. Ron Roenicke said that Green, a third baseman, could be used to start in place of McGehee against tough right-handed pitchers.

Anyway, I was wrong about Green’s numbers at Triple-A last night. He was actually hitting with .336 with 22 homers and 88 RBIs, which are better than the numbers I thought he had. So I guess a promotion was inevitable with how badly Green was tearing up the Minors.

The Brewers will go for a home sweep against the Cubs tomorrow in a day game. Zack Greinke (12-5, 4.22 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’ll look to rebound from an awful start in Pittsburgh his last time out in which he gave up seven earned runs. Greinke has had two starts against the Cubs this year- one was great, the other not so much. In the good start, he went 6 2/3 scoreless innings, which remains his only scoreless start while with the Brewers. He gave up six earned runs during the other start, however, so we’ll see which one was the fluke tomorrow.

The Cubs will counter with Casey Coleman (2-6, 7.59 ERA), who’s still filling in for Carlos Zambrano while he sits on the disqualified list. Coleman has been up and down between the Majors and Minors this year, but has been extremely inconsistent for the Cubs, as shown by his 7.59 ERA. Coleman is 0-1 with a 7.43 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

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