One mistake leaves Garza as tough-luck loser

Brewers starter Matt Garza pitched eight innings, allowing two hits and one earned run, while striking out seven and walking one batter in Wednesday's loss to the Braves.

Benny Sieu/Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — If there ever was a perfect example as to why the win-loss record of a starting pitcher can be misleading, Wednesday afternoon was it.

Matt Garza was dominant for eight innings in his debut with the Brewers, but Milwaukee’s offense did nothing to support him in a 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park.

With Garza and Braves starter Aaron Harang both tossing no-hitters in the seventh inning, Chris Johnson hit a 1-0 fastball out to left-center to provide the only run of the game.

"One mistake and that’s it. It’s the big leagues," Garza said. "You have to pay for things like that, especially with the heater to the four-hole hitter. You just have to tip your cap. The other guy pitched one hell of a game too. They are a great ballclub. It is what it is. It’s one start."

Signed by Atlanta after being released by the Indians late in spring training, Harang baffled the Brewers for 6 2/3 innings. Logan Schafer eventually ended Harang’s no-hit bid with a single back up the middle to start the bottom of the seventh.

The Brewers had runners at the corners with one out in the seventh after Aramis Ramirez singled to right, but Jonathan Lucroy popped out to second and pinch hitter Rickie Weeks grounded out to third.

Giving the talented bullpen duo of David Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel the lead in the eighth and ninth innings is usually a recipe for a loss and such was the case Wednesday for Garza and the Brewers.

"Garza threw the ball really well," Schafer said. "You could argue he threw the ball better than Harang did. It’s a shame we couldn’t put more people on base and more runs for him because if he pitches like that all year, he’s going to have a Cy Young year. We’ll take that any time of the week."

Braves 1, Brewers 0

After posting an 8.80 ERA in five spring-training starts, Garza was sharp from the get go Wednesday. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning.

Garza pounded the strike zone with his fastball and consistently was between 94 and 96 miles per hour on the gun. He left after eight innings of two-hit baseball, walking just one, striking out seven and throwing 65 of his 90 pitches for strikes. 

"Boy, I liked the way he threw the ball," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He commanded it. His slider was outstanding, mixed in some curveballs. He’s going to win a lot of games if he pitches like that."

Signed to a four-year, $50 million contract this winter, Garza held true to the message he delivered all spring, saying he’d be ready when he took the mound in a regular-season game for the first time.

He continued the Brewers’ string of strong outings by starting pitchers to start the season, as Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Garza combined to allow just four earned run in 21 innings (1.71 ERA)against the Braves.

"I just came in telling myself that I was going to attack," Garza said. "For the most part, I thought like I did a good job. I didn’t want to give in to any of them. I know they are great hitters, and they have a great lineup, but I just had a lot more confidence in my stuff than in them."

Milwaukee’s starters ended up with two losses in the series because of the lack of support provided by the bats. The Brewers scored just four runs on 16 hits in the three games.

"We haven’t hit the way we liked to," Ramirez said. "It’s early, but we have to pick it up."

Nine of Milwaukee’s 16 hits have come from Ramirez and Lucroy, as Ryan Braun, Jean Segura and Khris Davis went a combined 1-for-26 in the series. The Brewers had just two extra-base hits against the Braves — Ramirez’s two-run double on Opening Day and Carlos Gomez’s leadoff home run Tuesday.

"There’s no panic in here," Schafer said. "We know we can hit. We know what our offense can do. Today just wasn’t one of those days."

Getting a blow: Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was out of the lineup Sunday in an effort to prevent the pain in his shoulder from flaring up again.

The team has a scheduled off day Thursday before opening a three-game series in Boston on Friday, so Segura essentially got two full days off from throwing.

"This was the plan with Segura to make sure we take care of the arm," Roenicke said. "There’s been no problems, which is great. I don’t want there to be. With this and the day off tomorrow, this should work out real well."

Segura has started slowly at the plate and is hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season. While he got at-bats in minor-league games, having to sit out from March 18 through the final exhibition game on March 29 may be a contributing factor.

"He’s like a couple of other guys in our lineup that are pressing early to try and get it going right away," Roenicke said. "We need to get him a few hits and get him relaxed. Then we’ll see if we can get him to where he was last year."

Plan for DH: With three games this weekend in Boston, Roenicke has an idea as to how he would like to use Ramirez, Lucroy and Segura at designated hitter but isn’t sure exactly which game each will fill the role.

Using Lucroy at designated hitter Saturday would allow the Brewers to have Martin Maldonado catch Wily Peralta, something he did all of last season.

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