MILWAUKEE (AP) — Matt Garza was fuming after his previous start, the shortest of his career when he recorded just one out and allowed five runs.
What a difference five days make.
Garza allowed two hits in eight innings, and Ryan Braun hit one of three homers for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 9-1 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday night.
“His last start probably upset him enough that he had a lot to prove tonight, and he threw the ball well,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis also connected for the Brewers, who took a 6-0 lead after three innings against Dillon Gee (4-3) to win their fourth consecutive game.
Garza (7-7) gave up five runs in one-third of an inning Saturday at Washington.
It was a different story against the Mets. The right-hander yielded a third-inning single to Wilmer Flores, recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier Thursday, and a seventh-inning homer to Lucas Duda. Garza struck out four and walked one.
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said Garza had been throwing the ball well before the game against the Nationals.
“I don’t know how many outings, five, six in a row until that last one,” Roenicke said. “And I didn’t think he threw the ball that bad the last one.
“I think he still had a lot of confidence. He was attacking the zone with the fastball. When he’s good that’s what he does so well. He looked very confident coming into it.”
Garza downplayed the comeback this time, instead focusing on keeping the Brewers’ winning streak going.
“The bigger thing was I kept this thing rolling,” he said. “Our guys are swinging the bats well. I got an early cushion so it was easier to keep attacking. It was one of those nights where everything clicked on offense and it made my job a lot easier on the mound.”
The Mets sent 31 batters to the plate, four over the minimum.
Milwaukee limped into the All-Star break, losing 11 of 13 games. They have won five of seven since then to open a three-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central.
During their slump, the Brewers had a power outage, hitting only seven homers in 13 games. Since the break, they have 12 in seven games.
Lucroy hit his 12th and Davis added his 17th homer, both solo shots. Braun had a two-run shot, deep to left field. It was his 14th long ball and extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
“Hitting is contagious,” Davis said. “Once we start popping them out of the yard it feels like everybody is going to start.”
Duda’s homer was his career-high 16th.
Gee lasted only five innings for the second consecutive start and allowed six runs, the most he has given up all season. The right-hander allowed six hits and two walks and struck out six.
It was the most runs given up by Gee since he was allowed seven in an 8-3 loss at Philadelphia on April 9, 2013, a span of 40 starts.
“It seemed like everything they swung at, they hit hard,” Gee said. “I am confident I can get it turned around.”
He was replaced to open the sixth by Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose first pitch was hit by Davis over the fence.
NOTES: The Mets optioned OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Las Vegas. … Mets SS Ruben Tejada was given the day off as a precaution after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Seattle’s Taijuan Walker. RF Curtis Granderson returned to the New York lineup after missing two games with a stomach virus. He went 0 for 4. … The Brewers are playing Michael Jackson songs when Carlos Gomez strides to the plate, and the quirky outfielder is raising his right leg and imitating a leg kick done by the King of Pop before entering the batter’s box.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.