Over and over the last few weeks Brewers manager Ron Roenicke‘s mantra has been “We need to win series.”
The Milwaukee Brewers don’t need to sweep every opponent they face, such as they did a few weeks ago against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had the best record in the National League coming into the series. They just need to win the series. If they keep winning series, they’ll fend off the Cardinals and take the National League Central division.
The St. Louis Cardinals, nipping at Milwaukee’s heals, beat the Pirates on Monday as the Brewers beat the Padres, and the Cardinals lost to the Pirates on Tuesday as the Brewers lost to the Padres. The Pirates already beat the Cardinals on Wednesday coming into the series finale with the Padres so a series win would give Milwaukee another game in the standings.
But once again the Brewers failed to separate from the Cardinals. Defensive miscues threatened to ruin the night for Gallardo, but he overcame them and pitched six scoreless innings, but the bullpen couldn’t hang on to the lead and the Padres took the 3-2 win in 10 innings.
Neither team scored in the first three innings. The Brewers managed only a single and a walk in those innings. Gerardo Parra knocked a two-out single in the second, and stole second base. It was Milwaukee’s first successful steal against Rene Rivera in the series. Lyle Overbay followed with a walk, but those were Milwaukee’s only two base runners in the game’s first third.
Gallardo faced the minimum threw three innings for the Brewers. He allowed a leadoff single to Yangervis Solarte in the first, and a leadoff walk to Yasmani Grandal in the second, but both were erased on double-play ground outs.
Aramis Ramirez was the only base runner for either team in the fourth inning. The Brewers finally put together a threat in the top of the fifth. Lyle Overbay led off with a ground-rule double down the line in left.
Elian Herrera followed with a single up the middle to put runners at the corners, and he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gallardo to bring up the top of the order. To this point Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun had each come up twice and struck out twice, making them 0-for-6 with six K’s.
Gomez continued the trend, netting the top of the order’s seventh strike out before Lucroy flew out to left to end the inning with Overbay and Herrera stranded on base.
The Padres worked on a rally of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Grandal led off with a single, and Jedd Gyorko followed with a single to right. Braun bobbled the ball, he was watching the runner instead of the ball, and allowed Grandal to get to third.
Will Venable knocked a deep fly ball to left, it should have been deep enough to score Grandal, but he didn’t challenge Parra’s arm and stayed at third. Rivera grounded to third base and Ramirez threw Grandal out at the plate.
Gallardo walked Alexi Amarista to load the bases, but Despaigne, hitless in his career, grounded out to end the inning with the game still tied at zero. Gallardo threw 40 pitches in the inning.
After the Brewers went down quietly in the top of the sixth, the Padres put together another rally in the bottom half of the frame. Gallardo walked Solarte to open the inning but erased him at second on a bunt attempt by Abraham Almonte.
Smith grounded into a double-play ball but Scooter Gennett mishandled it at second leading both runners safe. Thankfully for the Brewers, Gallardo got his third double-play ground out of the night when Grandal grounded right to Herrera and he completed the 6-3 double play.
The Brewers finally cracked Despaigne in the top of the seventh. Overbay knocked a single to right with one out and came around to score from first on a triple down the right field line by Herrera, giving Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
Herrera came in to score on a wild pitch by Despaigne making it 2-0 Milwaukee. Despaigne struck out pinch hitter Khris Davis for the second out. It was his ninth strike out of the game, a new career high for the young right hander. Gomez flew out to end the inning.
Jeremy Jeffress came on to pitch the bottom of the seventh for Milwaukee. Gallardo went six innings and didn’t allow a run on three hits, and three walks. He didn’t strike out a batter, and is still just four shy of Been Sheets’ all time Brewers strike out record.
Gyorko led off with a slow roller down the first base line and Jeffress and Overbay both decided to field it, meaning neither of them fielded it and Gyorko was credited with a single.
Venable followed with a single to right, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Jeffress struck out Rivera for the first out of the inning. Parra made a sliding catch on an Amarista sinking liner to right for the second out.
Jake Goebbert came in to pinch hit for Despaigne with two on and two outs and he singled to left to bring in Gyorko and cut the lead to 2-1. Solarte grounded out to Ramirez to end the inning with Milwaukee up 2-1.
Nick Vincent came on to toss the eight for the Padres. Despaigne went seven innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on just six hits and one walk. He struck out nine Brewers. Vincent set down Lucroy, Braun and Ramirez in order.
Will Smith came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth for Milwaukee. The Padres put another leadoff hitter on when Almonte lined to center for a single. He was the sixth Padre leadoff hitter to reach base in eight innings.
Seth Smith grounded to the hole at first and Overbay made a nice diving play to stop it, but Will Smith didn’t cover the bay, meaning Overbay had to race to first to get S Smith. He was ruled safe on the field, but in the quickest review in history they ruled him out at first.
Almonte went to second on the play. Smith came back to strike out Grandal for the second out of the inning on two nasty sliders in the dirt. Gyorko walked to put two on for pinch hitter Tommy Medica, hitting for Venable. Cameron Maybin came in to pinch run for Gyorko as well. Smith struck Medica out with another filthy slider in the dirt.
Kevin Quackenbush came on to pitch the ninth for the Padres and the entire defense played musical chairs. Quackenbush set down Gennett, Parra and Overbay in order to send it to the bottom of the ninth.
Francisco Rodriguez came in to try and earn his 40th save of the season with no room for error, but it wouldn’t happen as Rivera belted a leadoff home run (9) to left field to tie the game at two.
Ron Roenicke got ejected after the home run for arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. The first two pitches to Rivera were called balls but were close and he took umbrage with the calls.
Two batters later Chris Nelson singled, but was thrown out trying to steal second base for the second out of the inning. K-Rod walked Solarte to extend the inning. Almonte struck out swinging to end the inning. It was K-Rod’s 1,000th career strike out.
Dale Thayer was the third reliever of the game for the Padres, pitching the 10th inning. He struck out Herrera to bring up pinch hitter Rickie Weeks who grounded out ahead of a Gomez ground out for another one-two-three inning.
Zach Duke came on to pitch the 10th for Milwaukee. He walked Smith to lead off the inning, it was the eighth time the Padres put the leadoff man on. Grandal followed with a single to center, moving Smith to second.
Maybin came up looking to bunt the runners up a base, but Lucroy had other ideas as he threw Smith out at third for the first out. Rymer Liriano lined out to Braun in right and neither runner was able to advance.
Rivera came up next, after hitting the game-tying home run in the ninth he knocked a single up the middle to bring in Grandal and give San Diego a 3-2 win.
Because of the blow save by Rodriguez, neither starter factored in the decision. Duke took the loss for Milwaukee. Thayer was credited with the win for the Padres.
The top three hitters in the Brewers lineup, Gomez, Lucroy and Braun, combined to go 0-for-13 with seven strike outs, three each for Gomez and Lucroy and two for Braun. Their seven strike outs came in their first seven plate appearances.
The Brewers have Thursday off and will take on the Giants in San Francisco for three games Friday through Sunday. That series will see Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Kyle Lohse take on Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy and Madison Bumgarner.