PHOENIX — Yovani Gallardo wants to start on opening day for the first time. He's making his strongest argument yet.
Gallardo struck out five in four solid innings and rookie Alcides Escobar knocked in his ninth run of the spring, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
“I think about it, I would like to be it,” Gallardo said. “I think it would be a great experience. Just being here two years and having that opportunity means a lot.”
Gallardo is almost the forgotten starter in Brewers camp this spring. The 24-year-old right-hander went 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA last season, but Milwaukee's rotation ended the year in shambles with a league-worst 5.37 ERA among starters.
In the offseason, the Brewers signed left-handers Randy Wolf and Doug Davis. Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Dave Bush and Chris Narveson are battling for the final two rotation spots.
Brewers manager Ken Macha hasn't selected his opening day starter yet, but made it a point not to give it to Gallardo last year because he didn't want to put pressure on his budding star.
“If I get it, I get it,” Gallardo said.
Macha said Gallardo has been very good this spring and that he's “glad to hear” his young pitcher wants to start on opening day.
Gallardo retired the first nine hitters he faced before allowing a hit and a run in the fourth. He finished his day by striking out former Brewers prospect Matt LaPorta.
Escobar, Milwaukee's rookie shortstop, has had a strong spring, too, as J.J. Hardy's replacement after Milwaukee dealt the All-Star to Minnesota for Carlos Gomez.
Escobar isn't supposed to be the hitter that Hardy was, but is 12 for 26 this spring with a home run and a team-high nine RBIs.
“I'm just trying to put it in play,” Escobar said. “I'm hitting every day and working on my swing. I don't know if I'm going to stay that hot.”
Indians starter David Huff never appeared to find a rhythm.
Huff, who is trying to win one of two unclaimed spots in Cleveland's rotation, allowed the leadoff hitter to score in every inning he pitched. He finished allowing five runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings.
“I left some pitches up and they definitely capitalized on it,” said the left-hander, who went 11-8 last season. “All in all, it wasn't a very good outing. There were some good signs in there as far as certain pitches I threw to certain guys. There were more bad things than good things but it was a learning experience.”
Huff said there's a fine line in trying to balance results and work on his mechanics while competing for a job.
“Leaving pitches up is not a good thing,” he said. “Today was one of those days. Tomorrow's a new day.”
NOTES: Two of the first three hitters in Cleveland's lineup are well-known to the Brewers' organization. Center fielder Michael Brantley and LaPorta were part of four prospects Milwaukee dealt to Cleveland for CC Sabathia in 2008. ... Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman threw live batting practice and will make his spring debut on Friday. ... Indians closer Kerry Wood (sore back) did not throw a scheduled bullpen session. ... The Brewers sent C Martin Maldonado and LHP A.J. Murray to minor-league camp and optioned RHP Amaury Rivas and RHP Mark Rogers to Double-A Huntsville.