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Brewers stifled by Giants rookie

Brewers stifled by Giants rookie

MILWAUKEE -- The baseball world has focused on Miller Park this weekend, but neither Barry Bonds nor the first-place Brewers have given fans much to get excited about.

The Brewers again held Bonds hitless Saturday -- he was 0-for-2 with two walks and remained two home runs shy of tying Hank Aaron's home run record. But they again lost the game, succumbing to hard-throwing Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, 8-0, in front of the third straight sellout crowd at Miller Park and a national television audience.

The Brewers have led the National League Central for all but 11 days since the start of the regular season, but they may be missing an opportunity to show the rest of the country what they are all about.

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"It bothers me to lose two games, that's what bothers me," Brewers manager Ned Yost snapped. "All right? I don't give a crap about anything else."

The Brewers had won four straight one-run games entering the series but have been outscored by the Giants 16-4. The 23-year-old Lincecum had a lot to do with the Brewers' offensive funk Saturday, when he allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings and struck out eight.

The game was close until the ninth, when the Giants scored five runs off reliever Chris Spurling in his emotional return from the bereavement list. The Brewers missed a chance to pad their lead in the Central over the Cubs, who lost earlier in the day.

Milwaukee leads the division by 2 1/2 games but needs to find some offense. The team has scored four or fewer runs in 12 of its last 15 games.

"Nobody is really swinging the bats really well right now," Yost said. "You battle through it. It can change. We've seen it change through the course of the summer a couple of times. When you go through these streaks, you just have to keep on pushing it."

The 2:55 p.m. CT start time made it a tough day for offense. Shadows creep across Miller Park in the afternoon, and for much of the day Saturday, the field was split between sunshine and shade.

Were Brewers hitters talking about the conditions?

"We don't allow them to complain about the shadows," Yost said. "Just play. They play, we play. You know it's tough to see."

Lincecum (5-2) retired the first 11 hitters he faced before Ryan Braun reached on an infield single in the fourth. Through the first five innings, the Brewers hit only two balls out of the infield -- Corey Hart's flyout to right field leading off the game and Johnny Estrada's soft single to center field in the fifth.

It was a different Lincecum than the one who faced the Brewers on May 19. He surrendered three runs in the first inning that day and three more in the second inning of an eventual 6-2 loss. But since then, Lincecum has surrendered four earned runs in 36 1/3 innings, holding opponents to a .161 batting average.

"The first time, he was all over the place," Yost said. "In the first two innings [of the earlier start], he was behind everybody. This time, he wasn't behind anybody. He was pounding strikes from the get-go."

Giants third baseman Pedro Feliz drove in three runs against starter Dave Bush, who took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits in six innings. Bush surrendered three consecutive hits leading off the second inning, including Feliz's RBI single, then fell behind Feliz, 3-0, with two outs and a runner at second in the fourth. Feliz deposited a two-run home run to right-center field.

"It's not a guaranteed 'take,'" Bush said. "I was trying to throw a strike to get back in the count and I didn't throw a good one. If I throw a good strike there, it's not an issue. Throw one down the middle, there's a chance the guy will put a good swing on it."

The Brewers were within striking distance at 3-0 until the ninth, when the Giants scored five times against Spurling.

He recorded the first out of the ninth inning, then surrendered an infield hit to Feliz, who advanced on shortstop J.J. Hardy's throwing error. Spurling walked Omar Vizquel and Lincecum, who was trying to bunt, and Dave Roberts and Randy Winn hit RBI singles before Yost went to the bullpen. Ray Durham hit Derrick Turnbow's first pitch for a three-run double.

Spurling was charged with five runs on three hits in one-third of an inning and his ERA jumped from 3.03 to 4.50. He spent the previous six days at home in Florida, where his 1-year-old son was hospitalized after an accident. Logan Spurling was released from the hospital Wednesday and was doing fine, his dad said earlier Saturday.

"I thought I was ready to go and past it, but not really," Spurling said. "I started thinking about it and the emotions got to me a little bit. I need to separate that from what I do out on the field. I apologize to the team, but I think they understand, also."

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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