“He should’ve taken a pitch!”
Those were the words of some disgruntled fan calling in on the post-game radio show following the Brewers 2-1 victory over the Dodgers. He was referring to Mark Kotsay’s pinch-hit walk-off single in the ninth after reliever Mike MacDougal walked Yuniesky Betancourt on four pitches.
For some, winning 18 out of 20 and growing their division lead to seven games isn’t enough to be happy after a win.
The Brewers, however, aren’t satisfied with the NL Central lead.
“You’ve got to take each day as it comes and try to catch Philly. That’s our goal,” Nyjer Morgan said. “Since we have nobody to really chase in our division, let’s go chase Philly.” Milwaukee trails the Phillies by 7 1/2 games for the best record in the National League.
After Yovani Gallardo and Chad Billingsley kept the game tied at 1-1 for eight innings, Takashi Saito retired the side for Milwaukee in the top of the ninth. Hong-Chih Kuo came in to face Prince Fielder and walked him on a 3-2 fastball. MacDougal then came in and gave up a single to McGehee before walking Betancourt. Jerry Hairston Jr. was then lifted for the left handed bat of Kotsay. Even with a beyond-shallow outfield, Kotsay laced a first-pitch fastball up the middle that fell in front of center fielder Matt Kemp for the win.
“We’ve found our identity,” Kotsay said. “Our pitching staff’s leading us and we’re scoring enough runs to win games.”
That was just the case Tuesday night at Miller Park. Gallardo had one of his best outings of the season, going eight one-run innings, striking out nine. After a fourth-inning hit by Juan Rivera, Gallardo retired 12 straight before giving up a hit in the eighth to Trent Oeltjen. Following the Oeltjen hit, Tony Gwynn Jr. singled to right to put runners on the corners. With Los Angeles threatening, Gallardo struck Casey Blake out to punctuate the night.
“I tried to find that good rhythm, and I was able to do that after the second inning,” Gallardo said.
Billingsley was sharp for the Dodgers, giving up just one run on a Corey Hart RBI groundout in seven innings.
The only extra-base hit in the game was notched by Fielder, who doubled to lead off the sixth inning before being hung out to dry on a botched squeeze attempt.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Brewers as St. Louis fell in 11 innings to Pittsburgh, their third loss in four games.