PHOENIX — Ryan Braun extended his torrid stretch with two more hits and two RBI for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.
After an 0-for-12 start this spring, Braun has 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats (.526) and is hitting .323 in Cactus League play. He had both hits against Cleveland starter Zach McAllister, who struck out nine in five innings.
"Their guy was throwing really hard and (Braun) squares it up and the ball was really taking off," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He looks good. We need to keep him where he is now and hopefully he can maintain that."
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who recently missed seven games with back spasms, hit a two-run homer in the second inning. Cleveland scored the go-ahead run on a force play in the eighth.
The Brewers had scored 91 runs in the last 11 games, hitting .353 as a team. But Braun provided all the offense Saturday with an RBI double in the first and a run-scoring single in the fifth.
McAllister made a strong bid for a rotation spot, striking out five consecutive hitters in the second and third innings, and two more in the fifth. He allowed six hits.
"He had real good velocity and he held it through his last inning," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "He also threw some good off-speed pitches. That was impressive but he’s been good all spring.
McAllister was matched by Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta, who continued an impressive spring with six innings of two-run, six-hit ball.
Peralta had a big smile on his face as he walked off the mound after six strong innings and 89 pitches. He also got his first hit of the spring, a single to left center, and trucked home from second on a single by Braun — getting a friendly bounce off the mound on the throw to the plate to enhance his foot speed.
"It’s been a good spring," said Peralta, who has a 2.51 ERA in 14 1-3 innings. "I made a few mistakes in the second inning. I left an (0-2) slider over the plate (on the triple to Ramirez) and then another mistake (the home run to Kipnis) but I made a good adjustment to get back in a groove. I put the pitches where I want to."
Roenicke will sit down with his staff on Sunday and a big part of the discussion will be the bullpen. Impressive springs by righty Michael Blazek and Tyler Thornberg have given the Brewers several options, as has the emergence of non-roster right-hander Chris Perez. They might not all make the team, but if they do it will cost someone a roster spot.
Righty Brandon Kintzler, who allowed the winning run Saturday and has a 6.48 ERZ this spring, could be one of the players on the bubble.
"Now we’ve got too many guys that we like, which is always nice," Roenicke said. "We knew who we were going to be in five spots coming into camp and we didn’t know those last two. And now we have a bunch of candidates who can wind up there. We have tough decisions every year, but it’s usually between two guys. This time I’m a little baffled as to which way to go."