MILWAUKEE — One night after breaking the Baltimore Orioles’ spirit with his bat, Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo shut them down the conventional way.
Gallardo threw nearly seven solid innings Wednesday in the Brewers’ 8-3 victory in the series rubber match.
The Orioles (26-25) and Brewers (32-22) now have faced each other three times in interleague play, and in each instance, the home club has won two of three.
Overall, the Orioles have dropped 11 of their last 17 and are again just one game over .500 on the season. They are now 4-3 in interleague games this season.
Gallardo (3-3) pretty much held the Orioles in check with the exception of slugger Nelson Cruz, who continued his amazing start.
Cruz, who signed a one-year, free agent deal in February, homered to right center in the second inning for the Orioles’ first hit. He picked up their second hit, too, a magnificent clout in the sixth inning that smacked the batter’s eye wall in deep center. The multihomer game was Cruz’s second of the season — the first coming April 23 at Toronto — and 12th of his career.
He now has a major league-leading 19 homers in 193 at-bats and is on pace for 60 this season. His career high is 33 with the Texas Rangers in 2009. Cruz’s 48 RBI are the most in the American League and second in the majors behind Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton.
How scorching hot is Cruz right now?
During his current nine-game hitting streak, he is batting .469 (15 for 32) with five doubles, seven homers, eight walks and 11 RBI. His 12 home runs in May are the most for him in any month in his career.
In a slight surprise, the Orioles scored a third run in the seventh without Cruz even coming to the plate.
Nick Markakis doubled with two outs to chase Gallardo, and Manny Machado followed with a RBI single. Machado had just two hits in 13 at-bats in Milwaukee.
Gallardo, who was Tuesday’s hero with a pinch-hit double in the 10th, added a single in two at-bats Wednesday.
His mound counterpart, Bud Norris (3-5), wasn’t sharp from the start and picked up the loss. After retiring the first batter he faced, the Orioles right-hander allowed consecutive walks followed by Carlos Gomez’s RBI single.
In the second, he gave up a two-run double by Ryan Braun and in the third the Brewers scored against Norris without getting a hit.
Gomez was hit by a pitch to start the inning, stole second, moved to third on a fly ball and scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
Norris pitched three scoreless innings after that, giving the Orioles a chance to mount another comeback – they had rallied in each of the first two extra-inning games against the Brewers.
It was the fourth straight time Norris has lasted at least six innings, but also the third time in four outings that he has given up four earned runs. It pushed his ERA to 4.04, still the lowest of any Orioles starter.
Once again on Wednesday, the Orioles offense had to try and dig out of an early hole. So far this season, they have been outscored by 20 runs in the first four innings.
They got within one run in the seventh before the Brewers broke it open with a four-run eighth against relievers Brad Brach and Brian Matusz. The big blow was a three-run homer off Matusz by Brewers outfielder Khris Davis, who homered in each of the three games in the series.
The Orioles now head to Houston for a four-game series against the American League’s worst team.
— Baltimore Sun