MILWAUKEE (AP) - The frustration is mounting for Yovani Gallardo.
The Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher labored through four innings in a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday afternoon.
Gallardo (3-5) gave up four earned runs and five hits while striking out seven and walking two. He was removed from the game after throwing 94 pitches, just 54 for strikes. Gallardo threw 105 pitches over six innings in his previous start, a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
``It's definitely frustrating. I don't know how to explain it, really,' Gallardo said. ``I felt good last start also and I felt even better today. It's just one of those weird days. Everything felt good. I was throwing changes for strikes.
When do you see that from me? It's just frustrating. You go out there and have pretty good command of all of your pitches but obviously the results aren't there.'
Gallardo's recent performances have confounded Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
``There were a lot of pitches in four innings,' Roenicke said. ``The ball-strike count wasn't his usual again. But I thought his stuff was good. Good live fastball. I thought he was down in the zone with it, but he threw a lot of pitches. (Pittsburgh) fouled a lot of balls off. It's just surprising when I think he has good stuff and he struggles to get through four innings.'
Gallardo's issues weren't limited to his performance on the mound. He banged up his knee sliding into second base in the third inning. He remained in the game but experienced some swelling in the knee, Roenicke said. He expects Gallardo to be OK for his next start.
Getting Gallardo to return to form is crucial for the Brewers, who have lost 17 of their last 22 games.
``We've got to get him to where he is heading in the right direction again and get him back to where we're used to seeing him,' Roenicke said. ``He obviously can't throw that many pitches in that few innings, but his stuff was good.'
Wandy Rodriguez won his fourth consecutive start and Pedro Alvarez had a two-run double for the Pirates, who have won 13 of 15 and are a season high 12 games over .500.
Rodriguez (6-2) gave up three earned runs on seven hits in five innings to earn the victory. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 20th save.
``We did some good things today, and we probably complicated the game for ourselves a couple different times as well. But we were able to play through it,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``We got on top and we stayed on top. It was a good way to finish the series and to win the series.'
The Pirates entered the game with a 9-47 record at Miller Park since 2007.
Hurdle said Rodriguez struggled with his command throughout most of the game but managed to preserve a lead.
``It wasn't his best stuff,' Hurdle said. ``It was a battle out there today for us. (Rodriguez) wasn't sharp but he got the job done. We will take that and move on.'
Strong pitching and timely hitting have fueled the Pirates recent run of success.
``We've been doing a really good job together as a team,' Rodriguez said through a translator.
Pittsburgh got to Gallardo for a run in the second on Jordy Mercer's two-out triple, which scored Michael McKenry, who walked.
Pittsburgh extended the lead in the third. Starling Marte led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones. A two-out double by Alvarez plated two more runs, giving Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
The Brewers rallied in the fifth. Rickie Weeks had a lead-off single. After Rodriguez retired the next two batters, Norichika Aoki singled up the middle and Jean Segura reached on an infield hit, loading the bases. Ryan Braun followed with a three-run double, cutting the Pirates lead to 4-3.
The Pirates added a run in the sixth on Marte's sacrifice fly.
Milwaukee again cut the lead to a single run in the eighth when Jeff Bianchi belted a one-out triple and scored on a Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly.
Mercer had three hits and a stolen base for the Pirates.
Notes: The Brewers on Sunday selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Donovan Hand from Triple-A Nashville. Hand pitched two innings in his major league debut. Hand filled the roster spot of closer Jim Henderson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right hamstring strain. Hand's parents and brother drove from Alabama to attend the game. ``My dad has dreamed of this for all his life. He wouldn't miss it for the world.' ... Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, who had two hits Sunday, has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games at Miller Park.
The Associated Press News Service
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