MILWAUKEE — Yovani Gallardo didn’t pitch a bad game Monday night, but he did make three mistakes.
But Gallardo had to be perfect in order to beat Clayton Kershaw, and he wasn’t. The Dodgers left-hander continued his dominance by tossing a complete game, three-hitter in Los Angeles’ 3-1 win over Milwaukee.
It was a story line almost identical to the one written after the Brewers’ 2-0 loss in Los Angeles on April 28. Milwaukee’s starting pitcher was good, Kershaw was just better. That afternoon Kyle Lohse was the victim, Monday it was Gallardo.
“Really good again,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Kershaw. “He commands the fastball. He commands all of his pitches, and they are all plus pitches.
“His fastball plays better than what the numbers are. He really buries it in to right-handers. It has a little bit of a cut on it. He can pitch.”
Kershaw lowered his Major League-best ERA to 1.35 with his second complete game of the season. The left-hander has allowed just one earned run in 17 innings against the Brewers this season.
Just how tough has Kershaw been of late? He has now allowed three earned runs or fewer in 22 straight starts, the longest streak since Pedro Martinez rattled off 23 straight from 1999-2000.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki said. “He’s won a Cy Young in the past. Even today it was hard to pick up any of his pitches.
“The (fastball) has an angle to it, too. It looks harder than the radar gun.”
Gallardo said he felt the best he has in awhile Monday night. Though his pitch count was high again and he needed 105 pitches to get through six innings, Gallardo was burned by three pitches.
He left a slider up to Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier in the second inning for an RBI triple, left a slider up to Ethier that was hit for a solo home run in the fourth and left another slider up to Matt Kemp that resulted in a solo home run in the sixth.
“I made two mistakes to Ethier,” Gallardo said. “I tried to throw a backdoor slider and it was right down the middle. You can’t do that kind of thing. Same thing with Kemp. I tried to throw it down and away and it was basically thigh-high right down the middle. Just bad pitches. Not much I can say about it. They put a good swing on it and hit it out of the park.”
Lacking velocity and command for much of the early part of the season, Gallardo spent some extra time in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Kranitz. One of the things he worked on was increasing his stride.
“It’s helping quite a bit,” Gallardo said. “Obviously it’s one of those things that’s not going to change from one day to another. I think that’s one of the reasons why I felt the way I did today. It felt like the ball was coming out a lot easier. Kind of normal. Back to where I was last year. Which sucks that we still got the loss but it’s something positive to look forward to.”
Though the loss was Milwaukee’s 15th in its last 18 games, Monday’s setback was one where a team can truly tip the cap to the opponent.
The Brewers had one scoring chance against Kershaw and did execute for one run. But the Dodgers’ ace proceeded to sit down 21 of the final 24 batters he faced, as Milwaukee had just three baserunners after the third inning.
“He did a good job,” Gallardo said of Kershaw. “He kept the hitters off balance. He’s got good stuff. I’ve faced him before, and it’s not fun hitting off him. He’s got a good curveball and slider. His fastball gets on you. It’s not an easy challenge.”