He’ll try to defeat the Giants (1-4) for the fourth straight time on Sunday as the Milwaukee Brewers (4-1) look to complete a three-game home sweep.
Sheets (0-0, 0.00 ERA) lost two of his first three career starts against San Francisco, but he’s been outstanding in winning the last three. He has gone the distance twice during the win streak, posting a 1.73 ERA.
All three wins have come at home, where Sheets faced the Giants just once last season. He pitched a six-hitter in a 6-2 win on June 19.
Sheets was masterful in his first outing of 2008, although he didn’t have a victory to show for it. He allowed two hits and struck out seven over 6 1-3 scoreless innings in a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
“He just pounded the strike zone, and they were behind in the count all day, it seemed,” shortstop Craig Counsell told the Brewers’ official Web site. “That’s Ben Sheets when he’s really good. He’s throwing strikes, working fast.”
The right-hander will make his first start of the season at Miller Park, where he went 6-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 outings in 2007.
Milwaukee used a 16-hit attack to win the opener of this series 13-4 on Friday before using a solid start from Manny Parra to win 5-4 on Saturday. Parra earned his first major league win by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before yielding two runs and three hits over 5 1-3 innings.
New Milwaukee closer Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, recovering from a shaky outing in Monday’s victory over the Cubs in which he blew a 3-0 lead.
“It’s good to get the first one out of the way,” Gagne said.
Ryan Braun - last year’s NL rookie of the year - went 2-for-4 with his first homer of the season to break out of a 0-for-10 slump.
San Francisco has scored eight runs in this series after managing only four in a season-opening three-game set at Los Angeles. The early production of regulars such as cleanup hitter Bengie Molina (.190) and Randy Winn (one RBI) hasn’t been enough.
The Giants are hoping the second start for Barry Zito (0-1, 7.20) goes better than his first. Zito allowed four runs—three in the first inning—and eight hits over five innings in a 5-0 loss at Los Angeles on Monday.
It wasn’t what Zito had in mind after he went 11-13 with a career-high 4.53 ERA in 2007 - the first year of his seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants.
“I wanted to come out here and start off the season on a good note, but that first inning got out of hand,” he said. “If I could take a couple of pitches back, it’s a one-run game.”
Zito has lost two previous starts at Miller Park, both coming last season. He was ripped for a 12.54 ERA in those outings, lasting four innings in one and 5 1-3 in the other.