Suppan's opener struggles continue

Suppan's opener struggles continue

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Suppan is still oh-for-Opening Day.

Suppan surrendered six runs over four innings in his fourth career season-opening start, a 10-6 Brewers loss to the Giants on Tuesday at AT&T Park that snapped Milwaukee's string of five consecutive Opening Day victories.

It fit right into the prevailing preseason prognostications, that the Brewers can score runs but have questions dotting the pitching staff. They certainly hit on Tuesday, when Mike Cameron worked four walks and scored twice, and Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks had two hits apiece for the Brewers, who rallied from an early 3-0 deficit and briefly took a 5-4 lead in the top of the fourth inning on Fielder's RBI single.

Twenty baserunners -- 10 hits, eight walks and two batters hit by a pitch -- and four stolen bases translated into six Milwaukee runs. It wasn't enough, though the Brewers chased reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum from the game after just three innings.

"We just didn't pitch very well," said Brewers manager Ken Macha, who made his Milwaukee managerial debut.

Lincecum did not fare much better. He was out after throwing 78 pitches in three innings and allowing three Brewers runs on four hits and three walks. Reliever Joe Martinez (0-1), who surrendered two runs in two innings while making his Major League debut, picked up the win, and Suppan (0-1) took the loss.

"When you get [Lincecum] out of the game, you've got to feel good about it," Brewers third baseman Bill Hall said. "When it's in the third inning, you feel like you're going to score some runs."

They didn't. After Martinez, five Giants relievers limited the Brewers to one run and three hits over the game's final four innings. Meanwhile, Giants hitters did most of their damage against Suppan with two swings of the bat: Travis Ishikawa's three-run triple in the first inning and Aaron Rowand's go-ahead, two-run home run in the fourth.

Ishikawa hit a misplaced changeup. Rowand belted a hanging slider.

"Those were the two at-bats that really stick out in my mind," Suppan said. "In those situations, you've got to make the pitch. Both of [those] pitches were in a location where they could drive it."

Suppan did help his own cause with an RBI double down the left-field line in a two-run Brewers second inning. He scored on a double by Weeks, part of a 2-for-3 afternoon for the Brewers leadoff man.

Weeks figured again in the Brewers' two-run fourth inning, when he was hit by a Martinez pitch, stole second base and then scored the tying run when Giants left fielder Fred Lewis misplayed Corey Hart's single. Lewis' wild throw back to the infield left Hart at second base for Fielder's go-ahead single to right field.

But the Giants came right back in the bottom of the inning, when Ishikawa singled off Hall's glove leading off the inning and Rowand followed with a long home run to left field.

Ishikawa's infield hit was not the first bit of bad luck for Suppan. In the first inning, Hall was stationed way off the third-base line against Edgar Renteria, who pulled a single through the vacancy. Renteria broke from first base on a hit-and-run, pulling shortstop J.J. Hardy out of position for Lewis' infield hit. Two batters later, a Suppan inside pitch glanced beefy third baseman Pablo Sandoval's baggy jersey, loading the bases for Ishikawa's booming triple to the deepest part of the ballpark.

"Rebuild the first inning -- take a look at it," Macha said. "With the exception of that changeup he left over the plate to Ishikawa, he didn't get knocked around a lot and he gave up three runs."

Said Suppan: "There were a few little things, but regardless of how you get there, you're always working to get out of it. You have to keep making pitches."

Suppan dropped to 0-2 in his four Opening Day starts with an 8.55 ERA and, including Rowand's blast Tuesday, he has surrendered 10 home runs in those games. Suppan started three straight years for the Royals from 2000-2002.

Seth McClung took over in the fifth inning and walked three of the seven hitters he faced in the frame, including two with two outs and one with the bases loaded, forcing in a run. McClung pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning but Dave Bush -- Milwaukee's No. 5 starter, pitching to stay sharp for his Saturday start against the Cubs -- was hit for two runs and three hits in the seventh inning. One of the hits was a questionable RBI double by Rowand that the Brewers believed was foul. Even Rowand stopped a few steps out of the batter's box before seeing third-base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's "fair" call.

"I don't go out there and argue very often," said Macha, who did argue this time, unsuccessfully.

The Giants added one more insurance run in the eighth when Randy Winn hit a homer off Jorge Julio. Winn is 6-for-14 lifetime against Julio with two home runs and three walks.

The positive for the Brewers was that they played a game at all and avoided the prospect of a day-night doubleheader Wednesday. A steady rain pelted AT&T Park all morning and threatened to continue all day. It subsided just after noon local time, just in time for the grounds crew to hurriedly prepare the field.

They got it ready in time for the Brewers to fall to 0-1.

"How you play on Opening Day doesn't dictate how the season plays out," Suppan said.

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