If the Arizona Diamondbacks are to record their first-ever series sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, they likely must find a way to finally get the best of Yovani Gallardo.
The visiting Diamondbacks look to accomplish both while trying for a fourth consecutive victory Sunday against the injury-depleted Brewers, who hope to avoid a fifth straight defeat.
These teams have previously played 33 series in the regular season, and Arizona has not swept one of them.
The Diamondbacks (4-1) are in position to end that 15-year-old drought after outscoring Milwaukee (1-4) in the first two games of this set by a 12-3 score. Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill all homered and seven players each had two of the Diamondbacks' 16 hits in Saturday's 9-2 victory at Miller Park.
"Obviously there's been an emphasis on moving runners and playing small ball at times," Goldschmidt told the Diamondbacks' official website. "We've got guys that can hit. Obviously some days you hit homers and other days you try to scratch a couple of runs across and win."
The latter may be their best shot to beat Gallardo (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Including the postseason, he's 7-0 with a 1.09 ERA in nine career starts against Arizona. He's allowed only three runs - all solo homers - and struck out 30 over 33 2-3 innings while going 3-0 in five overall starts versus the Diamondbacks at Miller Park.
Gallardo, however, allowed three runs on two homers and eight other hits in five innings of a 5-4, 10-inning victory over Colorado on Monday.
"With 'Yo,' obviously it's early in the year and that's not the Yovani Gallardo we know," catcher Jonathan Lucroy told the Brewers' official website. "He's a lot better than that, and it says a lot to how good he is that he only gives up three runs."
The right-hander might not have an easy time continuing his success against the Diamondbacks if the Milwaukee offense is unable to overcome a rash of early injuries.
Already without Corey Hart for at least the first month of the season as he recovers from knee surgery, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained knee this week and star Ryan Braun is likely to miss a third straight game with neck spasms.
Braun was 4 for 10 with a homer and four RBIs in three games.
"Those are big holes, the best hitters on the team," said Lucroy, who ended an 0-for-13 slump with two hits Saturday. "We have a lot of great hitters. We just have to step up and get the job done. That's the bottom line. Period."
Arizona ace Ian Kennedy should be glad he likely won't have to see Braun, who is 9 for 18 with three doubles and a homer against the right-hander. Kennedy (1-0, 2.57) enters this matchup with a 2-3 record and a 3.38 ERA in seven starts, including the postseason, versus Milwaukee.
He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings Monday, striking out eight in a 6-2 win over St. Louis.
"He just had everything working, the fastball pumped up to 94 (mph)," manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's kind of the old Ian we saw a couple of years ago."
Goldschmidt is batting .375 with two homers and five RBIs in the last three games after going 1 for 6 in the first two. He's 2 for 3 versus Gallardo.
The Associated Press News Service
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