PHOENIX (AP) — Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun hit consecutive home runs off White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija in the fifth inning during the Brewers’ 13-4 win over Chicago on Sunday.
The Brewers had 16 hits, five of which were home runs, one apiece for Matt Clark, Elian Herrera and Logan Schafer. Milwaukee has scored 24 runs on 33 hits in the last two days.
Braun, who started the spring hitless in 12 at-bats, is 3 for 6 since with two home runs.
"The guys are getting is shape and getting ready to go," Lucroy said. "You can see the at-bats improving. I take BP with (Braun) every day and his ball is looking like it was in 2012 (when he won the Most Valuable Player award). It’s flying off his bat."
Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriguez made his Cactus League debut nine days after arriving in Arizona, allowing a run but striking out two with runners on second and third in his one inning of work.
"I worked on the pitches that I wanted to," said Rodriguez, who had just two bullpen sessions and one live batting practice appearance before Sunday. "Mission accomplished. I got the first one out of the way, now I just have to ramp it up and get ready for April 6 (opening day)."
The 33-year-old Rodriguez is 10th on the all-time saves list with 348.
"It looked like he just finished pitching from last year," catcher Lucroy said of Rodriguez. "It’s amazing. As a hitter, I feel like I have to have a lot of reps before I feel like my timing is there.
"I feel like Frankie can roll out of bed whenever he wants and throw and go three-up and three-down. He knows what it takes."
Alexei Ramirez had two hits and two RBI for Chicago and J.B. Shuck had two hits and the other RBI.
Starting time: Matt Garza allowed two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, but got off to an inauspicious start. He walked Micah Johnson before throwing a pickoff attempt into the fifth row of the stands. Alexei Ramirez followed with a double off the wall to score.
But Garza retired Melky Cabrera, Avisail Garcia and Connor Gillaspie on two ground outs and a strike out to avoid further damage and was smooth after that.
Final ingredients: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said deliberations over the final spots on the major league roster will begin this week.
An extra bat is a premium over defense with Gerardo Parra as the fourth outfielder, so 1B Matt Clark (batting .353 with three home runs), will get serious consideration along with INF/OF Jason Rogers, who is 15-for-27 (.370) this spring.
Trainer’s room: RHPs Jim Henderson and Mike Fiers both threw in minor league games Sunday. Roenicke said he is confident Fiers (shoulder soreness) will be ready to start the regular season, and the Brewers don’t need a fifth starter for several weeks. . Henderson will begin the season on the disabled list or in the minor leagues as he works to regain velocity following shoulder surgery last summer.
Up next: RHP Tyler Thornburg takes Fiers’ spot in the rotation to throw against the Colorado Rockies on Monday at Salt River Fields.