And starting opposite another one of the National League's best young pitchers, Gallardo didn't disappoint. Milwaukee's 23-year-old burgeoning ace outdueled San Francisco's Matt Cain, lifting the Brewers to a 5-1 victory over the Giants on Friday night.
Gallardo (8-4) provided a big lift to a team that had lost five of its previous six games and is missing two starters. Dave Bush is injured and Manny Parra is in the minor leagues working out his control issues.
"Based on the circumstances that we're in right now with starting pitching, it's that much more important for us to win every time he does start," Ryan Braun said. "He's been great for us all year. He's been our guy."
Braun drove in a pair of runs and slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy homered for the Brewers. It was only the second loss in seven games for the Giants.
"I thought if I make quality pitches, they would get themselves out," Cain said. "But they didn't."
Friday's game figured to be a low-scoring pitching showdown. Gallardo certainly delivered, giving up a first-inning home run to Pablo Sandoval before settling down to retire 16 Giants in a row between the second and seventh innings.
"He's got four pitches that he mixes up very frequently," San Francisco's Nate Schierholz said. "He doesn't stick to one thing. You can't really sit on one pitch with him. He kept his curveball down."
Gallardo struck out nine while giving up four hits and three walks, exiting to a standing ovation with two outs in the eighth. He said he didn't get caught up in the matchup with Cain.
"You've still got to go out there and pitch your game," Gallardo said. "You can't try to do too much. That's when you get in trouble."
Cain (9-2) got off to a shaky start and went on to have a disappointing outing -- by his standards, anyway. His five runs allowed tied a season high, although he also tied a season high with nine strikeouts. Cain had given up a total of two runs over 17 innings in his previous two outings.
"He battled without having his sharp stuff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Craig Counsell led off the Brewers' half of the first inning with a triple, taking third after the ball scooted past left fielder Randy Winn. After a Hardy strikeout, Braun -- whose at-bat introduction music was changed to Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal for the game -- doubled to score Counsell. Casey McGehee doubled to score Braun, giving the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
Teammate Mike Cameron also changed his theme music to Jackson's Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough. The pop music star died Thursday.
"He's a legend and an icon, so Cam and I both felt like we'd give him a little tribute, a little love," Braun said.
So, will Braun keep using his new theme song?
"I'm sticking with Michael," Braun said. "We're 1-0."
Hardy, whom Brewers manager Ken Macha moved up to No. 2 in the lineup in hopes of waking his dormant bat, responded with a solo home run in the third to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. It was the seventh homer of the season for Hardy, who came into Friday's game hitting .215.
When Hardy has hit the ball hard this year, it always seems to be right at opposing fielders. So naturally, when he hit his home run, he assumed center fielder Aaron Rowand would catch it.
"If you're not getting hits, then you just don't feel comfortable in the batter's box," Hardy said. "It's as simple as a jam-shot bloop or something that finds a hole that gets you feeling good again.
Cain then got into more trouble in the fifth, giving up a bases-loaded RBI single to Braun and then a shallow fly to Prince Fielder which allowed Counsell to tag up and slide past a tag attempt by catcher Bengie Molina.
- Hardy's homer was his 500th career hit.
- Green Bay Packers first-round draft picks B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews III took batting practice and threw out ceremonial first pitches before the game.
- Recent flooding at Miller Park damaged more than 6,000 Jason Kendall bobble head dolls, meaning some fans will receive vouchers for Sunday's planned giveaway.