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Gallardo struggles; Crew held to two hits

Gallardo struggles; Crew held to two hits

MILWAUKEE -- Yovani Gallardo's previously sparkling ERA continued to take a beating on Thursday. He wasn't the only one having a bad day.

"You're not going to win too many games with two hits," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Gallardo was charged with six runs in a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers on a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Miller Park that made Milwaukee's hitters wish they had slept in. Jonathan Lucroy singled in the third inning and Prince Fielder homered in the fourth and that was all for the Brewers, who matched their season low with two hits. The Dodgers finished a three-game series sweep.

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Milwaukee fell to 16-29 in day games -- 9-15 at home and 7-14 on the road. Gallardo and Fielder insisted they didn't know those numbers, but Macha sure did.

"We've tried a half hour of batting practice, full batting practice, hit in the cage, whatever," Macha said. "If you take those numbers and turn them around ... we're right there in first place."

Might Brewers hitters simply be resigned to the fact they struggle in day games?

"I don't know," Macha said. "Day games are tough for everybody. You get to this time in the season, a lot of day games are 2-1 games, 3-2 games, because your body is not used to doing it. But your mental approach to the whole thing is almost like Prince -- his approach to playing this long streak every day is like, 'Let's strap it on, get out there and play.' It's a day game, so you have to be mentally tough and get through that.

"We've got to start having a little better mindset as far as shadows and roof [closed] or [open], whether we're hitting or not hitting. Our mindset has to be, 'We're coming to play.' We play as many day games as everybody else."

Macha called the notorious shadows at Miller Park "a non-factor," and pointed to the Brewers' equally-poor home and road daytime records as proof. Fielder took issue with that.

"Can y'all see the game on TV?" Fielder asked reporters, and, indeed, the glare makes it difficult.

"Imagine how 95 [mph] looks," Fielder said. "Like we've said all year, it is what it is. We have to grind and put the ball in play."

Dodgers hitters didn't seem to mind the conditions. They touched Gallardo for six earned runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings, scoring six runs in the span of three innings from the fifth through the seventh to put the game away.

It looked easy for Dodgers pitchers for the second straight game. On Wednesday, the final 10 Brewers hitters went down in order. On Thursday, Dodgers pitchers retired 14 of the final 15 men they faced.

After winning four in a row against the contending Cardinals and Padres, the Brewers have now lost four in a row. They dropped their series finale against San Diego on Sunday and then all three games against a Los Angeles club that had not swept any series since June 28-30 in San Francisco.

"We haven't done this for a while," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose club is trying to rekindle its postseason hopes. "We certainly need more than this, but you can't go win five in a row unless you win three in a row. I thought we played these three games very well and we had some key outs that we got out of the bullpen and some key two-out hits. We did a lot of things well this week."

Gallardo absorbed most of Thursday's damage. He struck out 10 -- the 10th double-digit strikeout game of his career and seventh this season -- but he has been tagged with at least four earned runs in each of his past four starts and five of his past six, a stretch that has inflated his ERA from 2.45 to 3.50.

"Today, I thought he had good enough 'stuff' to do it," Macha said. "His fastball was low- to mid-90s. His sliders were high 80s. He had 10 strikeouts. If your stuff's not good, you're not striking out 10 guys."

"It's very disappointing [because] I think I had pretty good stuff today," Gallardo said. "I was able to throw my offspeed, my slider and curveball for strikes, and my fastball was pretty good until the seventh inning."

The Brewers' best chance to give Gallardo the lead came in the fifth inning, when Dodgers starter Carlos Monasterios, trying to hold a 2-1 lead, walked Gallardo and hit Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart to load the bases. Torre called for right-hander Ronald Belisario to retire Ryan Braun for the third straight game, and did so with a strikeout that froze the runners. Then came left-hander George Sherrill to face Fielder for the second straight game, and he was successful, too. Fielder grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

"It's a good move, bringing tough guys out of the bullpen to kind of shut it down," Fielder said.

The Dodgers started pulling away in the sixth, when Casey Blake hit a two-out, two-run home run. In the seventh, Gallardo walked Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen and surrendered a Scott Podsednik single that prompted a bullpen call. Reliever Todd Coffey surrendered RBI singles to Ryan Theriot and Reed Johnson and threw a wild pitch that let another run score.

All of a sudden, the Dodgers were working with a 7-1 lead.

"The seventh inning was not pretty," Macha said.

By that time, the only question was who would be awarded the win. Monasterios only worked 4 1/3 innings (he was charged with one run on two hits with one walk, three strikeouts and three hit batsmen) so he did not qualify. Longtime official scorer Tim O'Driscoll debated between Belisario, who got the big strikeout of Braun with one out and the bases loaded in a one-run game, when any ball put in play could have tied the game, and Jensen, who recorded six outs. He chose Belisario, who improved to 2-1.

"Obviously, it wasn't a good series for us," Gallardo said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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