MILWAUKEE (AP) ― Yovani Gallardo could barely see the return tosses from catcher Jonathan Lucroy, losing them in the bright light filtering through the windows at Miller Park.
Imagine how the Diamondbacks felt.
Gallardo emerged from the shadows, outpitching Arizona ace Ian Kennedy as the Milwaukee Brewers kept winning at home with a 4-1 victory in their NL division series opener on Saturday.
“It was tough for me seeing the ball coming back, just having the sun there in the background. I was just hoping Luc didn’t throw one at my face,” Gallardo, who knew the shadows would play a role late. “When you have the lead, for myself, I was just going to keep going out and be aggressive knowing little things like that.”
Prince Fielder chased Kennedy with a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning, helping erase the stigma that the big slugger’s playoffs would be anything like 2008, when he went 1 for 14.
Same, too, with Gallardo.
The right-hander retired 14 of 15 during one stretch, perhaps helped by how the shadows cut across the infield. With an early start time, the sun peeked through the retractable roof all afternoon, creating a crazy, changing pattern.
“I’ve played here almost two years now, so I’ve kind of gotten used to it. But I can imagine some of the guys on the other team, and the umpires, too, having problems with it,” Lucroy said. “It’s tough. It’s hitting different. Dark, light, dark coming down through the strike zone. It’s tough to see sometimes.”
Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton watches a two-run home run off the bat of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder in the seventh inning. (AP-Yonhap News)
Phillies 11, Cardinals 6
PHILADELPHIA (AP) ― Ryan Howard took a mighty cut, dropped his bat and admired the shot.
The big slugger didn’t go down looking in a clutch spot this time, and Roy Halladay overcame a shaky start to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-6 Saturday night in the opener of their NL division series.
Howard shook off his season-ending strikeout last October to hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a five-run sixth inning, sending Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy. Halladay retired his last 21 batters, and the NL East champions began their all-or-nothing postseason run with a comeback win.
Halladay allowed three runs and three hits, striking out eight in eight innings. He didn’t allow a runner after Skip Schumaker led off the second with a single.
Game 2 is Sunday night, with Cliff Lee pitching for Philadelphia against Chris Carpenter, who is starting on three days’ rest.
Raul Ibanez hit a two-run shot off Kyle Lohse to cap the Phillies’ burst in the sixth, and Shane Victorino had three hits and two RBIs.
Last year, in his first career playoff start, Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in Philadelphia’s 4-0 victory over Cincinnati.
His bid for an encore didn’t last one batter, and Lance Berkman hit the first three-run homer off Halladay in three years to put the wild-card Cardinals up 3-0 in the first.
But the offense bailed out Doc.
Lohse retired the first 10 batters before Chase Utley hit a double off the right-field fence in the fourth. The righty, who was 14-8 this season, ran out of gas in the sixth.
Down 3-1, Jimmy Rollins singled to start the inning. After Utley struck out, Hunter Pence grounded a single up the middle. That brought up Howard, who heard a lot of criticism last year for taking a called third strike with the tying run on second base to end the Phillies’ season against San Francisco in the NL championship series.
Rangers 8, Rays 6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) ― With Texas Rangers fans chanting his name, Mike Napoli kept fouling off pitches until getting the big hit after James Shields had hit two batters.
Then Tampa Bay’s starter really got wild.
After Napoli’s two-run single, Shields threw a pair of wild pitches to the same batter. One of the balls in the dirt sent home the tiebreaking run in a five-run fourth inning for the Rangers in an 8-6 win Saturday night that evened the AL division series at a game apiece.