By Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers needed a performance like the one they turned in Tuesday night.
Timely hitting up and down the lineup. A solid performance from Yovani Gallardo. Nyjer Morgan amping up the Miller Park crowd in center field.
Heck, even a home run from Cesar Izturis, of all people.
Yes, for the first time in quite awhile, the Brewers indeed had everything working. The result was an 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that snapped a three-game losing streak and, just as important, returned some positive vibes to a clubhouse that’s been searching for some.
“We needed this game,” said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who provided one of the Brewers’ seven two-out hits with a bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning. “We didn’t play good the last two games in San Francisco, and we didn’t play good last night.
“This was a good win for us.”
A night after managing just one run on a first-inning home run by Ryan Braun in a 6-1 loss, the Brewers doubled that total off Reds starter Homer Bailey.
Braun got things going with a two-out single, Ramirez was hit by a pitch and Corey Hart walked to load the bases for Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy fell into a 0-2 hole against Bailey before shooting a single back up the middle to score Braun and Ramirez and make it 2-0.
“Definitely a big hit,” said manager Ron Roenicke, who started the day by having his contract extended through 2014 with a club option for 2015. “ ‘Luc’ has done that lately. He’s picked us up when we’re not getting those guys in. Two outs, he’s come up with some big hits.”
The top of the second featured a pair of highlight-reel defensive plays.
The first came from Morgan, who robbed Scott Rolen of at least extra bases with a leaping catch at the wall in center. He topped the play off with some beast mode while 28,108 fans roared their approval.
One batter later first baseman Travis Ishikawa got into the act, retiring Ryan Ludwick on a pop foul down the first-base line by leaning into the first row and snatching the ball out from among the fans.
“Real nice,” Roenicke said. “Both those plays in the same inning, it picks up everybody.”
Braun drove in the Brewers’ third run in the third inning with a double to left. Two were on base, but Rickie Weeks was kept from scoring after the ball bounced over the yellow stripe on the wall, making Braun’s double the ground-rule variety.
It wound up not mattering, thanks to Ramirez’s triple off Bailey. Izturis led off the inning with a single, Morgan followed with another and Braun walked to set the stage for Ramirez, who sent the ball into the right-field corner and made it to third without a slide.
“Another huge hit,” Roenicke said. “He gets smoked in the arm (in the first), and he comes through with that. He’s swinging the bat well.”
Gallardo helped himself out in the fifth by singling in Lucroy, who’d doubled to lead off the inning. It was Gallardo’s first hit in 13 at-bats on the year and stretched Milwaukee’s lead to 7-0.
“At least I was able to finally get a batting average,” Gallardo quipped afterward.
More important, obviously, was the way Gallardo threw the ball.
After being hammered two starts earlier in St. Louis and not pitching all that well in his last start in San Diego, the right-hander limited the Reds to just two hits over five innings before giving up a double to Brandon Phillips and a home run to the red-hot Jay Bruce in the sixth.
That made it 7-2, and Gallardo made it through the rest of the frame with no further damage before departing. In addition to the four hits and two earned runs, he walked two and struck out eight, tying a season high.
“The main thing tonight was I was a lot more aggressive in the zone,” said Gallardo, now 2-3. “I made some big pitches when I needed to and got out of some jams. It starts from that first pitch. I was able to command my curve and my slider.
“It all starts there.”
The light-hitting Izturis — now the Brewers’ starting shortstop — capped the night with his first home run since July 10, 2010, poking a 385-foot shot out to right to the delight of his teammates.
“Whenever guys that don’t ever hit home runs get one out of there, it’s fun,” Roenicke said.
Fun — a word the Brewers haven’t bandied around too much of late. Obviously, they’re hoping their latest performance will have some residual effect as they close out their series with the Reds on Wednesday.
“It was a nice day,” said Roenicke. “I just enjoy it when we’re playing well.”
Wednesday: Reds (Cueto, 4-0) at Brewers (Greinke, 3-1), 12:10 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: AM-620. Brewers first baseman Travis Ishikawa gets a pop foul by leaning into the first row and snatching the ball from among the fans at Miller Park. The ball was hit by Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick in the second inning Tuesday night.