Cain, Giants defeat Brewers
By JONATHAN DALTON
PHOENIX — Matt Cain is starting to find his groove.
The San Francisco righty allowed one run and struck out four in three innings as the Giants beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 on Sunday,
“I had some pretty good movement. I was in pretty much every situation, had guys on and worked out of the windup. But everything was good,” Cain said.
Cain’s results this spring have been a far cry than those posted last season, when he went 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and threw a perfect game.
In three previous exhibition outings spanning seven innings, he had allowed nine runs — five earned — on 13 hits with only three strikeouts. But against the Brewers, Cain matched his spring strikeout total eight batters into the game.
Cain pitched into trouble in the fourth after striking out Brewers starter Chris Narveson looking. Norichika Aoki and Scooter Gennett singled and Carlos Gomez walked.
Aoki scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gonzalez and Cain ended the inning by retiring Bobby Crosby on a fly ball to deep center. Cain had been scheduled to throw four innings, but a little stomach upset limited him to three.
“My stomach was a little bit funky this morning so they just wanted to get things going,” Cain said. “I might have gone another inning or so but for the little tummy ache issue. Something just didn’t agree.”
Brett Pill, Cole Gillespie and Nick Noonan had RBI singles for the Giants.
Narveson made his second official appearance and third overall — he started against Team Canada in a World Baseball Classic exhibition Tuesday — and gave up two runs and five hits in three innings.
“Sometimes you come in and you didn’t feel your best and a couple of days later you feel good,” Narveson said. “You’re going to have your ups and downs. It’s part of the process.”
Narveson, who missed nearly all of last season following surgery on his left rotator cuff and labrum on May 1, struck out one.
“I feel ready to pitch,” Narveson said. “I’m taking each step as a platform for preparation for the start of the season. I know if I do that, I’ll be ready to go once the season starts.”
Phillies 7, Astros 1
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Cole Hamels is concerned about his delivery, though it didn’t seem like much of a problem Sunday in a 7-1 exhibition victory over the Houston Astros.
The Philadelphia lefty gave up a leadoff double to Tyler Greene in the first inning, then retired 14 straight hitters.
Hamels allowed one hit in five innings. Brandon Laird was the only other batter to reach against Hamels, drawing a two-out walk in the fifth.
Greene scored Houston’s run on a groundball. Hamels struck out one in his fourth spring start.
“At least I was able to build up my pitch count, which was huge,” Hamels said, “but I’ve got to get the timing issue down so I can go seven, eight, nine innings and throw as many pitches as I have to.”
Five days after giving up eight runs and 12 hits to a Dominican Republic team tuning up for the World Baseball Classic, Hamels looked more like the pitcher who won a career-high 17 games last season.
“You just keep making adjustments and I was finally able to get a few good pitches there, but it’s not as consistent as where I need it to be,” he said. “It’s just a timing issue. More reps obviously will help.”
“I feel strong and that’s great, but you want to feel strong and you want your timing to be right on target, too, to pitch effectively. That’s kind of where my mind’s wandering. I just need to get there and I have a lot of work to do.”
Laynce Nix hit his first home run for the Phillies. Freddy Galvis had three straight hits and Erik Kratz hit a two-run triple off Jarred Cosart.
Josh Fields took the loss after Houston starter Brad Peacock worked three shutout innings in his first start.
Peacock had one of the Astros’ more impressive outings of the spring while filling in for Lucas Harrell, who has a strained groin. A new sinker has given a confidence boost to the 25-year-old Peacock, who was acquired from Oakland in a trade just before the start of spring training.
“Everybody has always told me I need a sinker and I’ve always tried, but it just didn’t do anything,” Peacock said. “This year I just took their advice and it’s working good. Hopefully I can keep that pitch going in my next start.”
Michael Young had two hits for the Phillies. Chase Utley went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.
Dodgers 6, Rockies 1
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Matt Kemp had his first two hits of the spring and Clayton Kershaw allowed only two hits in five innings and added an RBI single and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 6-1 Sunday.
Kemp, who was 0 for 11 with five strikeouts in his first four Cactus League games, singled in the first inning, walked in the fourth and added an RBI single to score Dee Gordon during a six-run fifth inning.
Juan Uribe followed Kemp with a three-run homer to cap the inning.
Kershaw (2-2), who had allowed eight earned runs in eight innings in three starts, allowed a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler and a single to Henry Wrigley in the second.
Fowler scored on Elian Herrera’s fielding error in the first. The Rockies had just five hits, all singles.
Tigers 2, Nationals 1
LAKELAND, Fla. — Dan Haren is still figuring out where he fits into the potent Washington Nationals’ rotation.
Haren went a spring-high four innings, allowing two earned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Rick Porcello started for the Tigers and pitched five shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out four.
Haren signed as a free agent after going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels last season. He is set to join Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler in the rotation.
Haren says he already has the pecking order figured out.
“Let’s see, I am the oldest starting pitcher and I am by far the slowest,” Haren said. “I am the second-best hitting pitcher. Other than that, we are a staff and a team that is built for the long run. Our fans in Washington have a lot to be excited about for a long time.”
Haren has 119 career wins and has been an All-Star three times. He said he has his eyes fixed on bigger things this year as part of a team that many are picking as the favorite to go to the World Series.
“It’s an exciting time to be here in Washington,” Haren said.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been impressed by what he’s seen.
“Dan Haren has been great,” Johnson said. “He’s been sharp all spring and he has great command. I like what I am seeing.”
Porcello is competing with Drew Smyly for the final spot in the Tigers’ rotation year behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister.
Smyly hasn’t allowed a run in nine innings over three starts. Porcello has only allowed three runs in 12 innings in four starts.
Porcello has fanned 14 without a walk this spring, and has a 2.08 ERA. His name has been mentioned in trade speculation, and he said he’s done talking about possible deals.
Mets 3, Cardinals 0
JUPITER, Fla. — Newcomer Shaun Marcum is making a nice impression with the New York Mets.
Making his third of the spring, Marcum allowed only one hit and didn’t walk anyone in 3 2-3 innings Sunday as the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0.
Marcum and six relievers combined to give up just three hits.
“We pitched very well today,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It starts with Shaun. Shaun made pitch after pitch and later in the game the relievers did, too.”
Shane Robinson appeared to be fooled by an offering from Marcum in the second inning but still managed to stroke the lone hit off him, keeping the ball inside the left-field line.
“As far as mechanics and everything, which has been my main focus the last couple bullpens and today’s start, everything felt a lot better,” Marcum said.
St. Louis starter Jamie Garcia was equally baffling to New York hitters. The left-hander threw five shutout innings, surrendering four hits and a walk.
“I thought he threw the ball very well,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “You could tell the ball was running all over the place. He had a real smooth, fluid action to him. I was happy to see the way the ball was coming out of his hand.”
Marcum and Garcia impressed, but it was Trevor Rosenthal who put on the biggest show for the fans.
Rosenthal struck out the side in the seventh inning. It was his first game appearance since learning he was no longer part of the competition to become St. Louis’ fifth starter, and that he would be concentrating on coming out of the bullpen.
Rosenthal generated a noticeable buzz from the crowd when four pitches reached 100 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Cubs 9, Padres 3
MESA, Ariz. — Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run double and Dioner Navarro followed with two-run homer Sunday, leading the Chicago Cubs past the San Diego Padres 9-3.
Christian Villanueva added a two-run homer for the Cubs. He has three hits this spring and all of them are home runs.
Padres starter Jason Marquis threw four scoreless innings and allowed two hits. Reliever Andrew Cashner made his first appearance and had a clean seventh inning after coming back from thumb surgery stemming from a hunting accident in December.
Mark Kotsay hit a two-run double off Cubs starter Scott Feldman.
Yankees 3, Blue Jays 0
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)— David Phelps is doing all he can to earn a role in the New York Yankees’ starting rotation.
Phelps kept up his strong spring training, allowing three hits over five innings in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Phelps’ command has been very good,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Phelps, a 26-year-old right-hander who went 4-4 as a rookie last year, has given up one run in 14 innings over four starts.
“Everything was working,” said Phelps, who struck out three and walked one.
Phelps is competing with Ivan Nova to be a starter and could win a rotation role if Phil Hughes doesn’t recover from a back injury by the first week of the season. Diagnosed three weeks ago with a bulging disk in his upper back, Hughes is set to throw 25-to-30 pitches off a bullpen mound Monday. He had a 10-pitch mound session Saturday.
“We believe that Phil’s probably going to be ready,” Girardi said.
Juan Rivera, likely to get April playing time in the outfield while Curtis Granderson is sidelined, had three hits, including a three-run double off Brett Cecil in the fifth.
Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ allowed four hits in 3 1-3 scoreless innings. He appears to be the odd man out to win a spot in Toronto’s revamped rotation that includes offseason acquisitions R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.
Pirates 7, Twins 4
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Darin Mastroianni hopes to run his way onto the Minnesota Twins.
The 27-year-old, who has 78 games of big league experience over the past two seasons, walked twice, stole a base and scored a run Sunday in the Twins’ 7-4 loss to a Pittsburgh Pirates’ split squad.
“Walks, hits, whatever it takes for me to get on base,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t really care too much about the batting average. I care more about my on base percentage. Today was a good day. On base two out of the four at-bats.”
Mastroianni is hitting .375 (6 for 16) with a .444 on-base percentage
“That’s part of my game to help us be successful and win,” he said. He stole 21 bases in 77 games last year for the Twins and swiped 14 more during 29 games in the minors.
Aaron Hicks may be the leading candidate for center field. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he hasn’t made a decision.
“Hicksie is doing great,” Gardenhire said.
Hicks was 1 for 2 with a walk, RBI and run. The leadoff hitter had a three-homer game against Philadelphia on Thursday.
“Gardy is going to make that decision in three weeks,” Mastroianni said. “In three weeks I’ll either be on that flight to Minnesota or I won’t be. And then whatever roles it is I’ll be ready for it and prepared to be the best for that role. It’s about winning about baseball games.”
Andrew McCutchen, Gaby Sanchez and Tony Sanchez hit home runs for the Pirates. McCutchen’s drive went off the scoreboard.
“Wind blowing out,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what happens.”
Jonathan Sanchez, in his first spring training start and fourth appearance, gave up two runs and two hits in two innings. Sanchez has an 11.81 ERA in 5 1-3 innings during the exhibition season.
Marlins 10, Braves 2
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Trying to revive his career with the Miami Marlins, Chone Figgins had a big day against the Atlanta Braves.
Figgins, signed to a minor league deal after his release by Seattle, was 4 for 4 with two RBIs in Sunday’s 10-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m smiling again,” said Figgins, a bust during three seasons with the Mariners after signing a $36 million, four-year contract as a free agent. “It was tough in Seattle, really tough. But I feel like everything is good now. This is another chance and I’m happy.”
Figgins was released in November by the Mariners, who owe him $8 million for this season in the final year of the big contract. He signed a minor league deal with the Marlins.
His first three hits Sunday came off Tim Hudson, who labored through five innings while throwing 97 pitches. He gave up six runs, nine hits, two hit batters and one walk.
Figgins, who hit .181 last season for Seattle, is competing for a backup role at second and third base and also can play shortstop and the outfield. He came in with just two hits in 14 at-bats, but raised his average from .143 to .333.
“He fits the utility-role need for us,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “It was good to see him come out and get some big hits.”
Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc gave up five hits in four scoreless innings with no walks and has pitched nine scoreless innings in spring training. The left-hander, who threw 28 of 42 pitches for strikes, is competing with John Maine and Kevin Slowey for the final spot in the Miami rotation.
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