Cantu's clutch hits not enough vs. Brewers
Slugger moves into NL RBI lead; 'pen can't hold it for Volstad
MIAMI -- Jorge Cantu claimed the National League RBI lead on Wednesday night. But the Marlins were unable to secure their fourth consecutive victory.
The Brewers relied on the arm and bat of Yovani Gallardo to put a halt to Florida's modest three-game win streak.
Milwaukee's ace surrendered two runs over seven innings and he belted a home run while batting eighth to help rally the Brewers to a 7-4 victory over the Marlins in front of 11,468 at Sun Life Stadium.
Cantu gave high praises to Gallardo, who also is from Mexico.
"He's their ace. He's a countryman. He can swing the bat, too," said Cantu, who drove in two runs against Gallardo. "It was just a good game for him overall. He's always been able to swing the bat."
The Brewers overcame a two-run deficit and scored three runs off Jorge Sosa in the eighth inning to claim the lead for good. Carlos Gomez's RBI single gave Milwaukee the lead, and George Kottaras belted a two-run homer to right.
In the seventh, Gallardo's home run off Taylor Tankersley to open the inning knotted the score at 2.
Two more runs in the ninth helped the Brewers break the game open. Prince Fielder connected on his ninth home run to lead off the inning against Brian Sanches.
"It happens. You don't want it to. It's a long season," Sanches said of the bullpen enduring a rough night. "You just go back there tomorrow and go right at them. I don't have the overpowering fastball, so I have to stay away from the deep counts. It seemed like I was just missing on some. It got me in some predictable counts, and they made me pay for them."
Of late, the Marlins' relievers have been effective. But Wednesday was a rough night, as they gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings. The 'pen allowed three homers, marking the first time they were taken deep since May 9, when Washington's Josh Willingham homered off Clay Hensley.
With rain delaying the start time by 51 minutes, the Marlins were headed for a long night.
Still, Cantu made it 1-0 in the first inning, but Florida couldn't manufacture anything consistently off Gallardo.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had some opportunities and he made some pitches. When you get some opportunities against a pretty good pitcher and you don't capitalize on it, you're going to pay for it at the end."
Driving in runs is a source of pride for Cantu. He delivered a sacrifice fly in the first inning and added a run-scoring single in the third. Cantu passed Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee (41) for the most RBIs in the NL.
Dating back to his last 30 games of 2009, Cantu now has 71 RBIs in his past 83 games.
"Jorge is as good as it gets with runners in scoring position, hands down," Dan Uggla said.
Chris Coghlan led off the first inning by reaching on an error, and he moved to third on Gaby Sanchez's single to right. Cantu lifted a fly ball to left just deep enough to score Coghlan.
In the third inning, Coghlan got things started with a single. Sanchez reached on a fielder's choice, and Hanley Ramirez walked, setting up Sanchez's run-scoring single to left.
From there, Gallardo regrouped and held the Marlins in check.
"That's a great team on the other side," Gallardo said. "I got out of some jams and had to make some good pitches to keep it there. At 2-0, my team has a chance to come back."
Chris Volstad worked 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits, but he settled for a no-decision. In the sixth inning, Milwaukee rallied with two outs. McGehee singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gomez's run-scoring single put the Brewers on the board. The inning ended when Tankersley struck out Kottaras.
"I really wanted to get through that sixth inning, but I left a fastball up to Gomez," Volstad said.
Being locked in a duel with Gallardo, Volstad knew the night would be a challenge at the plate and on the mound.
"He's kind of known for being a pretty good hitting pitcher," Volstad said. "His average wasn't super high, but around the league, people know he can swing it well. It's funny. I had to check the lineup twice when I first saw it to make sure he was hitting eighth."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.