Gallardo hopes to buck trends vs. St. Louis

Gallardo hopes to buck trends vs. St. Louis

Gallardo hopes to buck trends vs. St. Louis
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo did not need to be reminded that the Cardinals have frustrated him more than any other Major League team during his career. In fact he's probably still bearing mental scars created by some of their previous matchups.

But as Gallardo prepares to oppose the Cardinals on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium, he is attempting to ignore the past and fully savor the opportunity that awaits him as he attempts to reverse this trend during a much-anticipated pitching matchup against St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter.

"For a starting pitcher, it doesn't get better than this, obviously facing a great pitcher on the other side and a great team," Gallardo said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be tough. I'm definitely going to have to bring my 'A' game."

Gallardo had his "A" game on display when he allowed just two earned runs in the 14 combined innings he completed in two Division Series starts against the D-backs. But these successful outings weren't too surprising. The 25-year-old right-hander had gone 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Arizona.

Tale of the Tape: Game 3
2011 Regular Season
Overall: 34 GS, 11-9, 3.45 ERA, 55 BB, 191 K
Overall: 33 GS, 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 59 BB, 207 K
Key stat: Three SOs, including NLDS Game 5; had one in previous two seasons
Key stat: Career-best 3.51 K-BB ratio (9th in NL)
At BUSCH STADIUM
2011 Regular Season: 17 GS, 4-3, 3.05
Career: 67 GS, 32-14, 2.58
2011 Regular Season: 3 GS, 1-2, 3.32
Career: 5 GS, 1-3, 4.05
Against this opponent
2011 Regular Season: 4 GS, 2-2, 3.86
Career: 15 GS, 6-6, 4.58
2011 Regular Season: 4 GS, 1-3, 5.70
Career: 11 GS, 1-7, 5.66
Loves to face.: Jonathan Lucroy, 1-for-10
Hates to face: Rickie Weeks, 6-for-10
Loves to face: Matt Holliday, 4-for-18
Hates to face: Albert Pujols, 12-for-27
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Given up zero runs in four of last seven outings, including three-hit shutout in NLDS
Why he'll win: Solid starts in Games 1 and 5 of NLDS both led to MIL wins
Pitcher beware: Struggled following each of last two SOs (8 ERs in 10 innings)
Pitcher beware: Just one win in 11 career starts against the Redbirds
Bottom line: Duplicate last start
Bottom line: Build off solid NLDS

Staying along these same lines, there would certainly be some reason for surprise if Gallardo finds similar success against the Cards during this NLCS. He has gone just 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis.

"I try to forget about those things," Gallardo said. "I mean, even if it goes the other way around, 7-1. But you can't think about it too much. It's definitely a different kind of game here in the postseason."

Gallardo's ERA against the Cardinals stands as the highest mark he has posted against any NL Central foe.

"You know they have a good offense," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Sometimes an offense matches up better against a certain type pitcher. If it's a power pitcher, and you have an offense that really handles the fastball well, that could be a reason."

Gallardo does enter this matchup with the confidence he has gathered while going 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA in his past six starts, including the two NLDS outings. The streak began immediately after he allowed the Cards eight earned runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings on Sept. 1.

As bad as Gallardo might have been on that night, he had been every bit as dominant when he limited the Cardinals to one hit over eight scoreless innings at Busch Stadium on May 7. The lone hit he surrendered that day was Daniel Descalso's eighth-inning leadoff single.

"This guy is top shelf, a top-of-the-rotation starter," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We like our chances because we like Carp, and we are going to compete. But it's an even game, as far as I'm concerned, knowing the quality of their pitcher and their team."

Gallardo held Albert Pujols hitless in four at-bats while tossing that gem in early May. Since then, he has allowed Pujols six hits, including three home runs, in seven at-bats.

This challenge, of course, became even more daunting Monday night, when Pujols tuned up for this matchup by recording four extra-base hits -- a home run and three doubles -- in Game 2.

"They have a good lineup, especially the middle of the lineup -- they have some pretty good hitters," Gallardo said. "But I think yesterday, we made some mistakes out over the plate, and I'm going to try to limit those, especially with runners on, and [Pujols] being as good of a hitter as he is."

The Pujols factor stands as just one of the many that seemingly make this a tough matchup for Gallardo, who was among the many Brewers who found Milwaukee to be much friendlier than the cities they visited this year.

Gallardo went 10-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 home starts. But he was just 7-8 with a 4.05 ERA in 17 road starts.

Gallardo was at home for each of the two successful starts he made in this year's NLDS. Wednesday night will mark his first road start in the postseason since he allowed the Phillies three earned runs in just four innings during his first career playoff start in Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS.

In other words, it might behoove Gallardo to deal with the challenges posed by the Cardinals and Carpenter while also attempting to forget about the fact that he will be making this important start away from the friendly Milwaukee scene.

"You can't think about it too much," Gallardo said. "It's definitely a different kind of game here in the postseason."

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