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Brewers' Gallardo shows no rust in return

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- A little bit of rest might have done Yovani Gallardo a lot of good.

After missing two weeks because of a hamstring injury, Gallardo returned from the disabled list Saturday night and looked like the top-of-the-rotation pitcher the Milwaukee Brewers have been missing for much of the season, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Brewers' 2-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.

Gallardo struck out three, walked two and scattered three hits to win for just the third time since June 15.

"Being out for a couple of weeks, you just want to go out there and find your rhythm early," Gallardo said. "The first inning, I had three 3-2 counts. That's obviously not how you want to start, but I was able to get everything working after that."

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wasn't sure what to expect from Gallardo, who has struggled with command and pitch counts for most of the season.

"To be out that long and come back with that kind of command in all of his pitches -- his cutter was really good, fastball was located well, threw some nice curveballs," Roenicke said. "I think being out that long and coming back, (I'm) pleasantly surprised."

The Reds put a runner in scoring position just once against Gallardo, who retired the first 11 batters in order. That came in the fourth inning when Joey Votto walked and moved to second on Brandon Phillips' single. But Phillips was caught in a rundown between first and second, wiping out the Reds' best scoring chance of the game.

"That was a tough play to read," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It looked like Joey was going to go, but the ball didn't bounce far enough away so he stopped and Brandon got caught off."

Phillips' one-out single in the seventh ended Gallardo's night. Brandon Kintzler came on and gave up a single to Jay Bruce. Ryan Ludwick loaded the bases with a bloop single, but Kintzler preserved the shutout by getting pinch-hitter Xavier Paul to ground into an inning-ending double play -- one of two turned by Milwaukee's defense in the game.

"We had the right guy up there against the right kind of pitcher," Baker said. "He hit the ball hard but right to him and it's a double play."

Jim Henderson struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save of the season and the Brewers' 11th shutout since June 15.

"We talk about the relievers; they've been pretty solid all year, but the starters the last couple months have been really good," Roenicke said. "Our pitching staff, for one, we're holding our own against everybody and giving our offense a chance to score some runs and be able to beat some really good guys."

Cincinnati starter Mat Latos (12-4) struck out six in seven innings but lost for just the second time since July 1 despite holding the Brewers to two runs and six hits with three walks and a hit batter.

Latos hadn't allowed a run in his previous two starts and extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings before Logan Schafer's two-run double in the fourth inning gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead.

"I wasn't able to get strike one, and strike one is the most important pitch in this game," Latos said. "Fall behind, they basically get to hit whatever they want to hit. That one bad inning I hung a breaking ball, they hit a couple and two runs scored. That's just the way the game goes. Two runs will beat you on any given day."

The silver lining for the Reds was they stayed 3 1/2 games behind division leader Pittsburgh, which was throttled 15-5 at home Saturday by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"We didn't gain any ground, but we didn't lose any, either," Baker said.

Cincinnati has a five-game lead over Arizona for the second and final National League wild-card berth.

NOTES: The Brewers plan to use Tyler Thornburg as their long man out of the bullpen, giving Roenicke a chance to evaluate Tom Gorzelanny and Marco Estrada as starters. ... Baker wasn't sure if closer Aroldis Chapman would be available Saturday after pitching in Cincinnati's last two games. Chapman pitched in three consecutive games for the first time this season last week and Baker conceded that he might have to again as the Reds chase a playoff spot. ... Brewers CF Carlos Gomez was "feeling better," according to Roenicke, who said he hopes to have a better estimate of Gomez's availability after the weekend series. Gomez suffered a sprained right knee Thursday. ... After getting Friday off, Ryan Ludwick was back in the Reds' starting lineup, batting sixth and playing left field.
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