MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ben Sheets' first shutout was so simple he thought it would take no time at all to earn another one.
Wheelin' And Dealin'
Ben Sheets means business. The Brewers ace has not allowed a run in two starts this season. Sheet's 15-plus innings scoreless streak to start the year ranks fifth among all starters since 2003.
"I thought it was going to be easy," Sheets said. "I thought I'd get 15, 20, 100 of these. Seven years later, I finally finish up another."Sheets allowed five hits and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the San Francisco Giants 7-0 Sunday to finish off a sweep of the weekend series.Sheets (1-0) had his fastball and big curveball working right from the start, striking out the side in 11 pitches in the first inning and getting at least one strikeout in each of his first five innings. He finished with eight Ks.Brewers manager Ned Yost joked about why his big right-hander was so effective."Probably a 96 mph fastball on the black and a hard, biting curveball at the knees," Yost said. "He was about as dominant as he could be for me. That's Ben Sheets out there at his finest. Right from the beginning, attacking ... when he's got them both going he's tough to face."The Brewers ace also retired the last 10 batters in his second career shutout and 14th complete game of his career. His first shutout was also a five-hitter on May 29, 2001, against the Cardinals, his ninth career start.What does Sheets remember about that game?"It was in St. Louis," said Sheets, the longest tenured Brewer who is in the final year of a $38.5 million, four-year contract. "I don't even remember who caught me. I don't even know. I'd lie if I told you."The catcher then was Henry Blanco. This time, Jason Kendall, who scored twice and had an RBI, was behind the plate for Sheets, who had his last complete game against the Giants last summer."The game speaks for itself," Kendall said. "It's a lot easier catching him than hitting him."Ryan Braun went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and both he and Gabe Kapler homered for the second time in as many days as the Brewers scored in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings off Giants left-hander Barry Zito.The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner has never gotten on track since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants before last season.Zito (0-2) complained about the lack of velocity on his fastball in his opening start, and while he managed to throw it as hard as 87 mph against Milwaukee, he didn't get any help from his defense, which committed two errors that led to runs."The results aren't what I want, but I made a lot better pitches consistently and got ahead consistently," Zito said. "Got to work on keeping that ball true instead of having it come back."In the second, shortstop Brian Bocock misplayed Corey Hart's grounder and Hart scored on J.J. Hardy's double off the wall to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.The next inning, Kapler's sacrifice fly scored Kendall, who had gotten on when third baseman Jose Castillo's throw pulled Rich Aurilia wide of first. Kendall had advanced to third on Rickie Weeks' single.Kendall had a sacrifice fly of his own in the fourth, and the Brewers made it 5-0 the next inning with solo homers by Kapler, who was managing Class A Greenville last season, and Braun, the NL Rookie of the Year last season."I think the pitch before that was probably almost the exact same pitch, the fastball was down in the zone, a good pitch," Braun said. "But with two strikes ... I had to swing at it and fortunately I hit it pretty good."Zito, who yelled in frustration after Braun's home run, was gone at the end of the inning after allowing five runs -three earned -- and eight hits. Braun added RBIs in the seventh and eighth innings."There's no easy out in that lineup," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.The banged-up Giants managed just eight runs in the series after scoring four in three games against the Dodgers."I don't know who Sheets wouldn't have shut out today," Bochy said. "That stuff shuts out anybody."San Francisco never got a runner to third and never figured out Sheets, who threw 109 pitches and hasn't allowed a run this season after a 9.56 ERA this spring training."It's just hard to throw zeros at a big league team for nine innings, I don't care how good you are," said Sheets, who improved his career record to 74-74 in 192 starts. "I've had two in probably almost 200 starts. In 100 more starts, I've got a chance to get one more."
Giants RHP Keiichi Yabu's status for Monday's home opener against the Padres is uncertain after he hurt his eyes when the elastic bands he was working out with Saturday became unhooked and snapped across his face. ... Giants CF Aaron Rowand (sore ribs) will be re-evaluated Monday. X-rays on Saturday were inconclusive and he's missed the last two games. ... Brewers CF Tony Gwynn Jr. said he thinks he'll be ready to play Tuesday after missing the series with a tight left hamstring.