Brewers win, end Mets' scoreless streak
Hart's two-run shot in ninth makes a winner out of Gallardo
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.