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04/06/08 6:36 PM ET
Giants end tough trip with shutout loss
Zito allows three earned runs, but feels better in second outing
By Jeffrey Zampanti / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Beaten and battered, the Giants are finally headed home. Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets tossed his second career shutout -- in dominating fashion no less -- as the Giants suffered a 7-0 defeat Sunday at Miller Park. With its third straight loss of the series, San Francisco (1-5) returns to AT&T Park to begin a 10-game homestand Monday against San Diego. The Giants played the final game of the road trip down three players, with starting outfielders Aaron Rowand (ribs) and Randy Winn (ankle) and reliever Keiichi Yabu (eye) out with injury. All three are expected to return Monday, according to San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. "This was a tough road trip, both with losses and injuries," Bochy said. "We need to get back to full strength and get our guys back out there and get healthy. It's going to be good to get home." Even at full strength, the Giants likely wouldn't have been any match for Sheets. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed five hits and recorded eight strikeouts without a single walk in capturing his first victory of the season. Sheets (1-0) needed only 11 pitches in the first inning to strike out Dave Roberts, Eugenio Velez and Fred Lewis. He needed only 109 pitches (78 strikes) total. "I don't know who Sheets wouldn't have shut out today," Bochy said. "He had good stuff. When you have one check swing and three strikeouts [in the first inning], you know he's on top of his game. He's one of the best in the league. I don't know who has a better breaking ball, throwing that hard and locating." Giants ace Barry Zito (0-2) lasted only five innings for the second consecutive start. The left-hander allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned) with two walks and three strikeouts. Facing a lineup stacked with righties, Zito allowed solo runs in each of the second, third and fourth innings before serving up a pair of solo home runs to Gabe Kapler and Ryan Braun in the fifth inning. Zito allowed four runs on eight hits in the Giants' Opening Day loss against the Dodgers. "I feel that the results aren't what I want, but I made a lot better pitches consistently," Zito said "I'm encouraged. I thought I made a lot of progress from my last start. It's just a shame I had to go out there and lose a game as far as the team goes, but I'm excited to get back out there again in five days." With Sheets dealing on the mound, Braun went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and three RBIs. Milwaukee (5-1) took a 6-0 lead in the seventh when Braun delivered an RBI double off the wall in center field against Brad Hennessey, and Braun also came through with an RBI single in the eighth off Erick Threets. Sheets came back out for the ninth and retired the side in order. "Sheets was great," Zito said. "He mixed that fastball with the curveball and just threw a ton of strikes."
Jeffrey Zampanti is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.