CINCINNATI -- Once he slowed down, rookie Yovani Gallardo gave the Milwaukee Brewers more than they could have expected.
Gallardo took a shutout into the seventh inning and revived Milwaukee's slumping offense with a run-scoring single Tuesday night, setting up a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Gallardo (3-1) pitched out of a bases-loaded threat in the first inning, then shut down a free-swinging lineup that leads the majors in homers. The right-hander limited the Reds to one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings by mixing his 92 mph fastball and sharp curve.
And he did it even though he was antsy at the outset.
"In the first three innings, I was in too much of a hurry," Gallardo said. "I was just trying to do too much out there. After that, I just got back into a rhythm and got them swinging the bats."
Milwaukee needs more of the same from the 21-year-old Gallardo, who moved back into the rotation this month after Ben Sheets went on the disabled list with an injured finger on his pitching hand. Gallardo is 3-0 in five starts overall this season, and has shown a knack for getting outs even when his control is off.
"He wasn't exceptionally sharp," manager Ned Yost said. "It shows you those kids can find ways to get it done. He made the big pitch when he needed it."
He also had a run-scoring single off Matt Belisle (5-7), who failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The single came in handy for a team that was batting only .222 since the All-Star break, worst in the NL.
Scott Hatteberg broke the shutout with a run-scoring double in the seventh, and the Reds made it close against the Brewers' bullpen. Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Derrick Turnbow, his 27th overall. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 35 chances, getting a momentary scare when Ken Griffey Jr. hit a high fly to the warning track in right field for the second out.
Prince Fielder had a run-scoring triple in the fourth and an RBI single in the ninth, when the Brewers had several extended at-bats and forced left-hander Mike Stanton to throw 34 pitches overall.
"It just worked out," Fielder said. "We just fouled off tough pitches and kept making contact."
The NL Central leaders are trying to end a recent slide that has erased most of their cushion. Milwaukee led by 8½ games on June 23, but has let the Cubs get back into the race by going 13-13.
Yost believes that his young team has staying power because the downturn hasn't changed its demeanor.
"You can't get freaked out," Yost said. "You'd better stay steady. They've convinced me they have that trait, and I don't worry about it anymore."
The Reds are 11-8 under interim manager Pete Mackanin, who took over for the fired Jerry Narron. Cincinnati has the league's worst record at 42-59.
Griffey made two sensational plays in right field that kept the game close.
Griffey, who won a Gold Glove 10 times as a center fielder before switching positions this season, made an over-the-head catch on Damian Miller's sacrifice fly to the warning track in the second inning.
He topped that by making a diving catch of Craig Counsell's sinking liner in the third inning, then throwing to first base to double up a surprised Rickie Weeks.
Belisle's defense couldn't get him through a self-destructive fourth inning. For the second time since he took over on July 1, Mackanin gave Belisle an unexpectedly early exit, removing him after he'd faced seven batters in the pivotal inning.
"Pete and I have talked, and hes not going to put up with it," Belisle said. "Hes made it clear. I have to earn that back, from my teammates and the skipper, that I'm going to be consistent. Its always the worst thing when you get taken off the mound, but Pete has made it clear to me that hes not going to put up with it."
Fielder tripled off the left-field wall -- Dunn jumped and reached for the ball but missed it - to drive in the first run. Fielder scored on Geoff Jenkins' double, and Gallardo came to bat with two outs.
The rookie slapped a single up the middle for another run, bringing Mackanin out of the dugout to remove Belisle after only 53 pitches.
Gallardo doubled home a run in his first big league at-bat, then went 0-for-12 with five strikeouts before his RBI single on Tuesday. ... It was Fielder's first triple of the season and the second of his career. ... Rookie Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to seven games. ... Dunn extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games. ... The Reds lead the majors with 139 homers.