Milwaukee (65-63) will again be without the NL’s leading home run hitter as Fielder serves the second and final game of his suspension on Saturday night, when the Brewers continue their weekend series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.
Fielder, who’s already set career highs with 39 homers and 97 RBIs, originally was suspended three games and fined an undisclosed amount after a confrontation with home plate umpire Wally Bell on Aug. 12 during the Brewers’ 6-4 loss at Houston. Fielder was ejected after arguing a called third strike and had to be restrained by bench coach Dale Sveum.
On Friday, the suspension was reduced by one game and Fielder started serving it against the last-place Giants (57-72). Joe Dillon got the start in Fielder’s place, and was 1-for-5 with an RBI single in Milwaukee’s 11-6 defeat.
“Our plan was we weren’t going to have him miss the Chicago series,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said of Fielder. “We were going to take the suspension here, but to have one game knocked off of it is a good thing for us.”
The loss, combined with the Chicago Cubs’ 6-2 win over NL West-leading Arizona, dropped the Brewers 1 1/2 games behind the Central Division leaders and 4 1/2 games behind San Diego for the wild card. The Brewers will meet the Cubs for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday, when the teams start a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
Bonds, meanwhile, extended his all-time record for career homers when he hit his 761st in the fourth inning off reliever Chris Capuano. It was Bonds’ 27th homer this season and second of his career off Capuano - who was recently demoted to the bullpen and lost his 11th straight decision, one shy of the franchise record.
The seven-time NL MVP needs three homers to reach 30 for the 15th time in his career. If he’s in the starting lineup, Bonds will next face Milwaukee rookie Yovani Gallardo (5-3, 4.41 ERA), who will make his first career start against San Francisco and try to build off an impressive outing his last time out.
Facing the Diamondbacks on Monday, the right-hander gave up five hits and struck out six over six innings, and helped his own cause by hitting his first major league home run in Milwaukee’s 9-0 road win. Gallardo had lost his previous two starts, recording a 19.44 ERA and .477 opponent batting average.
“He wasn’t razor-sharp, but he was good enough to get through six shutout innings,” Yost told the Brewers’ official Web site.
Gallardo is 2-1 in five road starts this year, but has a 6.15 ERA due to his outing on Aug. 8 in Colorado when he was lit up for 11 runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 19-4 loss. Overall, he’s allowed two runs or less in three of his road starts so far.
“It’s all about execution. He’s got the quality pitches, he just (needs to) execute them in quality spots in the strike zone,” Yost said.
Gallardo has given up six homers in 67 1-3 innings this year. Bonds has homered off a record 448 pitchers.
Kevin Correia (1-6, 3.90) will make just his second start this season for San Francisco, pitching in place of Russ Ortiz, who’s on the 15-day disabled list on with a torn flexor tendon in his right arm.
Correia made his first start since September 2005 when he faced Atlanta on Aug. 14, and scattered four hits over 4 1-3 innings in the Giants’ 5-4 loss.
“I almost felt more comfortable as a starter than after almost a hundred relief appearances. It just kind of came right back,” Correia told the Giants’ official Web site.
Correia is 5-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 20 starts over his five-year career. In eight games - one start - versus Milwaukee, Correia has no record and 3.95 ERA but the Giants have lost six straight to the Brewers when the right-hander makes an appearance.