Gallardo piles up K's, but can't contain Cubs

Gallardo piles up K's, but can't contain Cubs

Gallardo piles up K's, but can't contain Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- For five innings Tuesday, Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster threatened to provide a new low point for the battered Brewers. Fifteen up, 15 down. Nothing even close to a Brewers base hit.

Cody Ransom spared the Brewers the indignity of a perfect game when he singled leading off the bottom of the sixth inning, but that was the extent of Milwaukee's highlights. Dempster snapped an 18-start winless streak, Yovani Gallardo labored through six innings and the Brewers lost to the last-place Cubs, 10-0, at Miller Park.

Whatever momentum the Brewers brought back from the West Coast after a four-game sweep of the Dodgers, it's gone. They lost two of three games to the Pirates to start the homestand before dropping Tuesday's series opener against the Cubs.

"Coming from there, we were about as high as we've been," said Corey Hart, who began the night at first base and finished in right field. "Injuries keep happening. We have to figure out a way to win."

An election night crowd of 28,071 -- downright sparse for Cubs-Brewers -- helped tell the story of two struggling teams. The Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak and an 11-game road losing streak, and improved to 19-36. The Brewers fell to 24-31 with their third loss in four games, and are 12-16 this season at Miller Park. Last year, they led the Majors with a 57-24 home record.

"It's tough, because we had a great series there in L.A.," Gallardo said. "We were all working together, pitching, hitting, a little bit of everything. It just seems we get on a roll like that, we get out of it, kind of lose it.

"We can't do that anymore. We all have to come together as a team and start playing good baseball once again."

Gallardo struck out 10 in his first double-digit strikeout game this season, but little else went right for the right-hander on the way to allowing five runs on six hits, including a pair of Cubs home runs. He called it "one of those weird days."

"He had great stuff," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Ten strikeouts, five runs. Doesn't make sense."

Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer with one out in the first inning, and Bryan LaHair added a solo shot in the fourth.

Soriano did not homer in his first 30 games but since then has gotten hot, with a National League-best nine home runs since May 15. He hit a fastball on the outer part of the plate to right field -- a rare opposite-field home run for a longtime pull-hitter.

LaHair's homer was his 11th this season but his first since May 15, and it came on a pitch that nearly bounced in the dirt.

The Cubs added insurance in the fifth inning on a squeeze bunt before piling on the Brewers' bullpen. Manny Parra and Tim Dillard combined to allow three runs in the eighth inning, and Juan Perez served up a two-run homer to Jeff Baker in the ninth.

The Cubs hitters finished with 14 strikeouts. On this night, manager Dale Sveum didn't mind.

"I'll take 14 strikeouts and score 10 runs, however it happens," Sveum said. "Sometimes you just figure outs are outs, as long as you're scoring. Obviously, you don't want to strike out that many times, but when you're scoring and getting big hits, that changes everything around."

The run support represented a deluge for Dempster. The Cubs had scored 15 total runs with Dempster on the mound this season, and had averaged 2.29 runs per his nine innings pitched, the second-worst run support in the Majors.

Staked to a rare early lead on Tuesday, Dempster dominated Brewers hitters.

Gallardo took part of the blame.

"It's not easy for those guys down three runs there in the first inning," he said.

Dempster did not allow a ball hit to the outfield until Gallardo flew out to center field to end the third inning, and 10 of the first 15 Brewers batters either grounded out or struck out. Each of Dempster's first 15 outs was entirely routine.

"[Dempster's] last couple of outings, we've done pretty good, but you know going in that if he's on that day, he's going to be pretty stingy with the hits," said Hart. "He's like some of our guys, that if they get a big lead like that, they calm down and their stuff ends up working better."

Ransom finally got the Brewers going by lining Dempster's 66th pitch to center field for a single leading off the sixth inning. He moved to second on a two-out single but was stranded there when Dempster retired Norichika Aoki on a flyout to Soriano in left.

In the seventh inning, Ryan Braun led off with a double but never moved past second base.

In the eighth against Cubs reliever Shawn Camp, the Brewers had runners at second and third with nobody out but again came up empty.

Dempster improved to 16-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 48 career appearances against the Brewers, including 27 starts.

"Well, he's got a two-whatever ERA this year," Roenicke said. "Anytime you're in the twos, you're pretty good. You're not getting hit by too many people. I know his last outing [a loss to the Padres] wasn't that good, but besides that, that's probably the only outing he's had that was off this year. So, he's good, and he threw the ball really good today."

Tuesday's loss dropped the Brewers into a tie with the Astros for fourth place in the National League Central, 6 1/2 games back of the division-leading Reds. The Cubs are in last place, 11 1/2 back.

"If we're going to get back in this thing, we need to start playing well," Roenicke said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.