Yovani Gallardo has spent much of his career toying with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On Wednesday night, the Pirates finally found a way to flip the script on their nemesis.
Neil Walker laced a two-run single off the Milwaukee right-hander in the sixth inning, Wandy Rodriguez pitched seven strong innings and the Pirates beat the Brewers 3-1 on Wednesday.
Gallardo (3-3) came in 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Pirates but was outdueled by Rodriguez and outsmarted by Walker, who guessed right when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
“He has to come to you,” Walker said. “He has to throw strikes and if you stay in your own approach and don’t go chasing pitchers pitches and more often than not you’re going to at least hit a barrel.”
When the switch-hitting Walker, batting left-handed, saw the cutter he was expecting, he slapped it up the middle for his first RBIs in nearly a month. The second baseman came off the 15-day disabled list with a hand injury on Monday then gave the Pirates the jolt they needed to post consecutive victories over the Brewers for the first time in nearly four years.
“These are important moving forward for confidence,” Walker said. “But being at home here, we feel like it doesn’t matter who we play, we need to take advantage of that home field advantage.”
The Pirates moved six games above .500 for the first time this season with the victory. Rodriguez (4-2), who was knocked around by the Brewers when he faced them last month, responded by expertly working himself out of trouble spots the first four innings before eventually giving away to Pittsburgh’s red-hot bullpen.
Rodriguez (4-2) gave up six hits, walking one and striking out five then watched Jason Grilli worked the ninth for his National League-leading 16th save.
“It was the start we needed, a little bit better than their guy,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “Their guy was good too.”
Gallardo almost always is when he faces Pittsburgh. He entered the game with a 10-2 lifetime record against the Pirates and was solid enough to make it 11-2 after surrendering three hits over six innings, walking four and striking out four. He just received little help offensively.
Rickie Weeks hit his third homer to provide Milwaukee’s only run. Norichika Aoki had two hits for the Brewers but couldn’t stop Milwaukee from falling to 2-10 in its last 12 games.