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Notes: Sheets' curveball sings

Notes: Sheets' curveball sings

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers ace Ben Sheets was thrilled about the mechanical fix he made on Tuesday night, and that thrilled his pitching coach.

"When I see Benny excited, that makes me really excited," Mike Maddux said before the Brewers and Cardinals wrapped up a three-game series at Miller Park.

Sheets certainly was excited. After beating the Cardinals for the first time since 2004 and winning a game for the first time since Opening Day, he was asked how he felt.

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"I feel good!" Sheets sang. "Like James Brown!"

The key was harnessing his curveball. Maddux noticed in earlier starts that Sheets was releasing his curveball too early. That led to the pitch staying up in the strike zone, instead of down in the dirt, where Sheets often likes to use it to induce swinging strikeouts.

But it was up to the pitcher to actually make the adjustment.

"The only one who knows how you feel is you," Maddux said. "And the thing that's unfortunate about baseball is the only time you're at full speed is when you're playing. You can throw on the side and play catch all you want, but you only go 100 percent when you're between the lines.

"Now that you know what it feels like, you know what you're looking for."

Both of the Cardinals' runs off Sheets scored before he recorded his first out of the third inning. But after a Chris Duncan home run and an Albert Pujols single, Sheets retired 12 of the final 13 hitters he faced.

"Everything just looked sharper," Sheets said. "I think it can bode well in the future. I've proven that as long as I'm healthy, I'm going to eventually figure things out."

Sheets is 2-2 with a 4.25 ERA. His next scheduled start is on Sunday at home against the Pirates.

Ride the hot hand: Tony Graffanino finally got into the swing of things on Tuesday night, and it earned him another day in the Brewers' starting lineup.

Manager Ned Yost first planned to start left-handed-hitting Craig Counsell at third base in Wednesday's series finale against St. Louis. That's because Graffanino was likely to start each of the following three days against Pirates left-handers.

But Yost reversed course after Graffanino went 3-for-5 in Tuesday's comeback win. His three-run home run capped a seven-run sixth inning and put the game out of reach.

"I definitely haven't been swinging the bat the way I wanted to or the way I feel I'm capable of," Graffanino said. "I've been taking baby steps, because even in the spring my swing didn't feel right.

"The last week or so, I have made little adjustments that, hopefully, will lead to hitting better for a while."

Graffanino said his adjustments were all "little things" like batting stance, body position and his hands.

"I guess they add up to something big, that made me feel not right for a while," Graffanino said.

Strong words: Reliever Jose Capellan spoke Tuesday with Nashville Sounds broadcaster Chuck Valenches -- Capellan's first interview since he was left off Milwaukee's Opening Day roster and demanded a trade. Top pitching prospect Yovani Gallardo served as translator.

At the center of the discussion was Capellan's decision to leave the Sounds for two days last month when word came from Milwaukee that trade talks were going very slowly.

"[I] was a little upset, and [I] didn't think about the things [I] was doing," Capellan said, according to Gallardo. "It was a bad decision."

"Is he sorry he did it now?" Valenches asked.

"[I am] not sorry for it," Capellan responded. "Those two days [I] missed, it's not going to affect [my] performance for the whole year. [I am] still going to come out here and do [my] job. [I am] not going to pitch bad just because [I] got sent down. [I] am going to do [my] job, go out there and pitch."

Capellan made 61 appearances out of the Brewers bullpen last season, but was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to leave a spot for right-hander Greg Aquino. Had Capellan not left the team April 17-18, he would have been promoted to Milwaukee when Aquino was sent down on April 21 after two bad games. Instead, the team took Chris Spurling.

"[Me] and [my] agent feel there is probably somebody else out there who might need a reliever in the 'pen like [me]," Capellan said. "[I] feel that [I] threw good last year -- a lot of innings. [I] want to see if somebody else needs [me]."

April's best: Shortstop J.J. Hardy was named the Brewers' player of the month for April and right-hander Jeff Suppan won pitcher of the month honors after a vote by the team's broadcasters and beat writers. Hardy batted .282 in April with a team-best six home runs and 17 RBIs and Suppan went 4-2 with a 2.55 ERA, winning his last four starts.

They will get their awards before Tuesday's game against the Nationals.

On deck: Right-hander Dave Bush will be looking to bounce back from a rough start in Houston when he faces lefty Tom Gorzelanny and the Pirates on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at 7:05 CT. The Brewers swept a brief two-game series from Pittsburgh at Miller Park, April 18-19.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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