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Milwaukee pitchers start off strong

Milwaukee pitchers start off strong vs. Giants

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GIANTS 5, BREWERS 3
at Scottsdale, Ariz.
Thursday, March 4

Brewers at the plate: Rickie Weeks stroked RBI singles in the second and fourth innings. Craig Counsell grounded a run-scoring single off first baseman Brett Pill's glove in the fifth as Milwaukee amassed 10 hits in the first five innings.

Giants at the plate: Falling behind 3-0 while their first 12 hitters were retired, the Giants rallied for four runs in the fifth. After Juan Uribe, Fred Lewis and Eugenio Velez singled to load the bases with one out, Eli Whiteside grounded a two-run double, John Bowker hit a run-scoring groundout and Andres Torres recorded a two-out RBI single.

Brewers on the mound: Starter Jeff Suppan pitched two perfect innings before Todd Coffey and Scott Schoeneweis added one apiece. Schoeneweis struck out two batters. John Axford was the victim of the Giants' big fifth inning.

Giants on the mound: Barry Zito lasted 1 2/3 innings and yielded Weeks' run-scoring hit after walking Suppan on a 3-2 pitch. Alex Hinshaw retired the only batter he faced for the second day in a row. Todd Wellemeyer, competing for the fifth starter's spot, surrendered one run in two innings. As he did 18 times last year, Jeremy Affeldt coaxed a double-play grounder, though he yielded a fifth-inning run.

Worth noting: Settling a score that dated back to last year, Zito plunked Prince Fielder with a first-pitch fastball in the first inning. The Giants were angered last Sept. 6 when Fielder celebrated a game-winning homer with a choreographed home-plate celebration. Even then, several Giants vowed retribution against Fielder, who seemed to expect Zito's purpose pitch and trotted calmly to first base.

Cactus League records: Brewers 0-1; Giants 2-0

Up next: If there is such thing as a big game in early March, the Brewers will have one Friday when budding ace Yovani Gallardo leads the squad into Oakland's Spring Training home to face Ben Sheets and the A's. Sheets is wearing a different uniform for the first time in his Major League career after pitching for the Brewers from 2001-2008. He's Milwaukee's all-time leader with 1,206 strikeouts. Now the torch has been passed to 24-year-old Gallardo, who is unofficially the leading candidate to start for the Brewers on Opening Day.

The Giants will host the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale in another game that will have more symbolism than usual for a spring outing. Not only will San Francisco face the National League West favorites, but Jeff Francis, Colorado's erstwhile ace who's trying to overcome arthroscopic shoulder surgery, will oppose All-Star right-hander Matt Cain.

Chris Haft 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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