Gallardo stars as Brewers win, sweep Twins
MILWAUKEE — Yovani Gallardo said it was too early to start pondering the possibility of a perfect game.
It certainly was on the minds of the fielders — and the Fielder — playing behind him.
"You looked up there, you saw no hits," Prince Fielder said. "You knew he was doing well. Just wanted him to keep it up."
Gallardo did not allow a baserunner until Drew Butera singled with one out in the sixth inning. From there, the Brewers' young ace went on to pitch his second career shutout and the Milwaukee Brewers completed a sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 5-0 victory Thursday.
Milwaukee has won four straight.
"Maybe some things are starting to click for us," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Fielder and Rickie Weeks homered as the Brewers chased struggling Twins starter Nick Blackburn from the game in the fourth inning.
"The young man over there really pitched fantastic against us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Gallardo. "Blackburn made a couple mistakes early, got behind and I think their guy pretty much did the rest."
Gallardo (7-3) tied a career high with 12 strikeouts and gave up only five hits with no walks.
"And he'll get you some hits," Fielder added.
Gallardo indeed helped himself at the plate with a double, single and two runs scored.
Gallardo, trying to become the third pitcher to throw a perfect game this season, retired the first 16 batters he faced before Butera's one-out single broke up the bid. Gallardo's effort was recognized with a warm standing ovation from the crowd, announced at 35,898.
Gallardo said he wasn't thinking about a perfect game at the time.
"It's a little bit too early," Gallardo said.
Meanwhile, the Twins kept unraveling in uncharacteristic fashion.
Traditionally one of the best defensive teams in baseball, the Twins were charged with another error Thursday when Denard Span allowed a single by Gallardo to slip between his legs. Minnesota made four errors in the three-game series.
"You're going to have bad series," Michael Cuddyer said. "Those are going to happen. It's not going to be the only one we have."
And it was yet another miserable June outing for Blackburn (6-5), who gave up five runs in only 3 2-3 innings.
Blackburn won all five of his starts in May but fell to 0-4 with a no-decision in five starts this month. Blackburn has lasted fewer than four innings in four of his five starts this month.
"It's the same thing that's been happening to me, just letting some balls up and they hit them," Blackburn said. "It's getting pretty old, going out there and putting out efforts like that and not giving us even remotely a chance to win. It's pretty frustrating."
Gallardo — who has decent power at the plate for a pitcher — was the catalyst for Milwaukee's four-run third inning, smacking a one-out double for the Brewers' first hit of the game.
Weeks followed with a two-run homer to left, his 12th of the season on a 2-2 pitch from Blackburn.
After a walk to Corey Hart, Fielder homered just over the left field fence and into the bullpen for his 14th homer of the season.
Blackburn has given up five homers in his past three starts.
Gallardo found himself standing on second base in his next at-bat in the fourth, singling to center and continuing to second after the ball slipped through Span's legs. Weeks walked, and Hart singled to score Gallardo and give Milwaukee a 5-0 lead.
That was it for Blackburn, who was lifted for reliever Brian Duensing.
With the win, Casey McGehee said there was a hard-to-describe "different vibe" in the Brewers' clubhouse.
"Winning definitely helps that," McGehee said. "But we've already proved a couple of times, don't get too excited because it can go the other way quick."
NOTES: After the game, the Twins outrighted infielder Brendan Harris to Triple-A Rochester and will select the contract of outfielder Jason Repko. ... Brewers LHP Doug Davis was scheduled to make a rehabilitation start at Triple-A Nashville Thursday night. Davis is on the disabled list because of pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around his heart, and could return next week. ... Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who had heart surgery April 30, was at the ballpark.