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Brewers jump on Zito early, beat Giants

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Miller Park has not been particularly kind to Barry Zito, who took the mound Wednesday against Milwaukee with an 0-3 record and 7.22 ERA in six career starts in the Brewers' home park.

Those numbers didn't improve Wednesday, when Zito was tagged for eight runs over three innings in the Giants' 8-5 loss to Milwaukee.

"It's been weird at this yard," Zito said. "I haven't had many games where I felt like I was on my game."

The Brewers jumped on Zito early, though the Giants' porous defense helped contribute to the struggles. San Francisco entered the game atop the National League with 44 errors and committed two more in the first, as Milwaukee pushed six runs across the plate.

"When they give you an out, early in the game particularly, get the out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We didn't do that ... You mix in a couple of walks and a couple of errors and that's six runs. It happened fast."

Zito (3-2, 3.53) went 3-0 to Corey Hart before walking the Brewers' leadoff hitter. Norichika Aoki reached on a sacrifice when Zito overthrew first baseman Brandon Belt. Ryan Braun drew a walk to load the bases and Aramis Ramirez followed with a bases-clearing double.

The Giants' second error of the inning allowed Jonathan Lucroy to reach, and Zito followed by walking Rickie Weeks before getting Carlos Gomez to strike out and Cesar Izturis to ground out to second.

The final two runs, though, came at a steep price for Milwaukee (18-26). With two out and two on, starting pitcher Marco Estrada doubled but limped his way into second base. He left the game with a strained right hip flexor, leaving the Brewers' bullpen to cover the final eight innings.

The Brewers' bullpen covered seven innings Monday in a 14-inning loss to the Giants (23-21), and it appeared that the Giants might be able to fight their way back into the game. After Milwaukee added two more in the second on Lurcoy's fifth home run of the season, the Giants got three runs off Milwaukee left-hander Manny Parry.

Angel Pagan reached on a one-out infield single that Hart tried to field himself, diving but missing the tag as Pagan touched first base. Brandon Crawford followed with a single and just beat the throw to second when Melky Cabrera hit into a fielder's choice.

Hector Sanchez then ripped a bases-clearing double to left to make it an 8-3 game. An inning later, against reliever Kameron Loe, the Giants added two more on Crawford's RBI single and Cabrera's run-scouring double.

"That's how you play the game," Bochy said. "Those guys weren't quitting. They got back in the game."

Loe came back and worked a scoreless fifth, and Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford combined to hold San Francisco to just two hits while striking out six and issuing just one walk the rest of the way.

"They came in and did a great job, starting with Manny," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. His team has covered 18 innings over the last three days but will benefit, he said, from a day off Thursday.

"The day off tomorrow is big," Roenicke said. "We'll reload and see what happens with Estrada, how bad the injury is and try to figure out what we're going to do there."

The Brewers couldn't muster much against the Giants bullpen, which also put in a yeoman's effort after the Monday marathon and Zito's shortest outing of the season. San Francisco's relievers kept Milwaukee off the board over the final seven innings, allowing just five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

"They stepped up," Bochy said. "We were getting back in it, and they were holding them."

NOTES: Estrada went to undergo an MRI exam following the game ... Lucroy entered the day tied for fourth in the National League with a .344 batting average. He went 2-for-4 and reached on an error Wednesday, scoring twice, and driving in two runs with his second-inning home run. It was his 15th multi-hit game of the season. ... San Francisco IF Pablo Sandoval hit 25 pitches off a tee prior to the game. He's been on the disabled list since May 3 with a left hamate fracture ... After the game, the Brewers sent IF Edwin Maysonet to Class AAA Nashville, claimed IF Cody Ransom off waivers and transferred SS Alex Gonzalez to the 60-day disabled list.
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