The Giants, who have one of the worst offenses in the National League, are right in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Brewers , with one of the highest-scoring attacks, are playing out the schedule.
The difference between the two clubs? Pitching, and it's not even close.
The Giants used their superior arms to take another close one from the Brewers , 3-2, Saturday at Miller Park. It was the Brewers' second consecutive loss to San Francisco by that score, a testament to the strength of the visitors' pitching.
"Their pitching keeps them in it," said Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy. "You've got to give them credit. They're good."
For those who have forgotten the basic premise of Baseball, good pitching beats good hitting nearly all of the time. The Brewers entered the day ranked third in the NL in runs scored (648), home runs (153) and slugging (.428).
The Giants ranked 15th in runs (538) and homers (98) and 14th in slugging (389). But where it counts most, San Francisco had a decisive edge. The Brewers entered the day with the 15th-ranked pitching staff (4.87 ERA), with the Giants coming in at No. 2 (3.48).
Don't bother to pick up a copy of "Baseball for Dummies." It's the pitching, the pitching, the pitching (for reference, see CC Sabathia, Brewers , 2008).
"It's not about offense," said Brewers manager Ken Macha, whose club fell to 4-28 in games in which it scores fewer than three runs. "It's about pitching.
"If you look at their (Giants') run differential (541-503), it's pretty good."
The Brewers knew it would be a challenge against Giants right-hander Matt Cain (13-4, 2.51), but they had their best pitcher on the mound, Yovani Gallardo. The 23-year-old right-hander has become accustomed to losing low-scoring games - in five of his losses he has allowed three runs or fewer - but that didn't make it less painful.
"It definitely (stinks)," said Gallardo, who fell to 12-11 with a 3.59 ERA. "It's upsetting. But that's pitching. You've got to limit the mistakes that you make. It seems like everything (happened) in that one inning."
Gallardo referred to the fourth, when he was one strike away from a 1-2-3 inning. On a 3-2 count, Juan Uribe belted a shoulder-high changeup out to left for his 10th homer, snapping a 0-0 deadlock.
Of the changeup to Uribe, Macha said, "I can't disagree with the choice. This guy is a dangerous hitter. He was pretty much on everything. He laid off a couple of breaking balls in the dirt."
Nate Schierholtz followed with a sharp, one-hop single off first baseman Prince Fielder's glove and scored when Aaron Rowand doubled into the left-field corner. The Giants scored their other run in the fifth when Eugenio Velez led off with a triple into the right-field corner and Randy Winn doubled to left.
The Brewers broke through against Cain in the fourth when Ryan Braun singled with one down and scored on Fielder's opposite-field double. But they wasted a prime opportunity in the seventh when Cain walked Fielder and Casey McGehee to open the inning.
Jody Gerut, in the lineup because he was 3 for 7 against Cain, grounded into a force at second then helped the Giants escape by being caught trying to steal second. Macha, to say the least, was not pleased with Gerut's decision to run in that situation.
"I don't like giving up outs on the bases," said Macha.
The Brewers took one last shot at pulling the game out in the eighth after Jason Kendall chased Cain with a leadoff double. With a run in, one out and two on, Giants manager Bruce Bochy went for broke and summoned closer Brian Wilson, who induced Braun and Fielder to ground into force plays at second.
Fielder's grounder headed up the middle was anything but routine, but second baseman Velez ranged behind the bag and flipped back to Uribe covering for the biggest out of the game.
"I thought it was definitely going through," said Macha.
"Those guys have excellent pitching. We made them go to their closer in the eighth inning. The guy throws 101 mph. That makes it tough."
Opponent: Giants (75-61)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Miller Park
JSOnline.com Tom Haudricourt and Anthony Witrado post news, notes and analysis at www.jsonline.com/Brewers
Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)Sign up for breaking news alerts from FOXSports.com!