Ross looks sharp in final Cactus League start

Four Padres collect two hits to pick up right-hander's scoreless outing

Ross looks sharp in final Cactus League start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres ended the Cactus League portion of the their spring schedule on Thursday with a 6-5 victory over the Brewers at Peoria Stadium.

Ryan Braun continued his hot hitting for the Brewers with a double and his third spring homer off reliever Jason Layne. After opening the spring 0-for-13, Braun is 13-for-his-last-23, running his spring average from zero on March 19 to .361 (13-for-36 overall).

He's had at least one hit in each of the nine games he's played in since then. Braun's fifth-inning homer came back-to-back with Jonathan Lucroy and helped wipe out an early 4-0 San Diego lead.

"I feel good. I feel like I've had a lot of good at bats, seen a lot of pitches," Braun said after coming out of the game. "I feel like I have my mechanics in a good place where they're repeatable. I'm hitting the ball well. I'm kind of hitting the ball all over the place. I feel good about where I'm at. It's a good time to feel good about your swing and your approach, for sure."

The game also marked the final tune-up starts for a pair of right-handers: Tyson Ross of the Padres and Matt Garza of the Brewers. The Padres open the season on Monday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles and Ross is slated to pitch the second game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Brewers open at home on Monday against the Rockies and Garza is scheduled to start on Tuesday night against Colorado.

Ross worked three innings, allowing no runs and a pair of singles, walking one, striking out one and tossing 41 pitches, one of them wild. He finished the spring with a 3-0 record, 2.49 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings over six starts.

Ross said he's happy with the way things turned out.

"I fell like I made some strides down here," Ross said. "I feel like I'm ready to go. It's April 2. I'm feeling healthy and I'm looking forward to the long haul of the season."

Now, it's on to Los Angeles.

"I'm excited," Ross said. "It doesn't matter where I'm throwing in the rotation. One through five is excellent. I'm just going to be ready when it's my turn to get the ball and just keep the line moving."

The veteran Garza was not nearly as impressive. The Padres shelled him on Thursday for four runs on eight hits in his three innings. He whiffed six, walked none and threw 65 pitches.

Yonder Alonso, Matt Kemp and Derek Norris each had two hits against Garza and Will Middlebrooks drove in a pair of runs with a double.

The Padres had an injury scare in the eighth when center fielder Travis Jankowski jammed his shoulder into the wall trying to track down a fly ball hit by Nick Ramirez. Jankowski was removed for precautionary reasons, though manager Bud Black said his shoulder had a good range of motion after the game. Last season, Jankowski, a former first-round pick, broke his left wrist after colliding with the wall.

Garza finished 1-2 with a 6.95 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 22 innings during his six starts.

The Brewers remain in Arizona and have a home-and-home series against the Indians the next two days. The Padres have one more exhibition game on Saturday at Petco Park against Diablos Rojos from Mexico City.

The remade Padres finished 17-12-1 in the Cactus League, 9-6 in their renovated spring home. Black, beginning his eighth season as Padres manager, said the club accomplished its goals this spring.

"I think leaving here healthy is the most important thing," Black said.

Up Next: The Padres have Ian Kennedy starting against the Mexico City Rojos at Petco Park in his last outing before enjoying the honor of starting the home opener on Thursday against the Giants. Kennedy started three openers in his three seasons with the D-backs. Aside from giving Jose Valverde his outright release, Black said before the game that the Padres had reassigned non-roster left-handed reliever Chris Rearick to the Minor League camp. But Black said Rearick would still make the trip with the team to San Diego and pitch during Saturday's game. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.