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Merklinger's three hitless innings lead Dogs

Merklinger's three hitless innings lead Dogs

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It was only 15 days ago that Dan Merklinger went three innings in his third Arizona Fall League start against Phoenix. On Tuesday, he logged another three frames -- for the Desert Dogs.

The Brewers prospect held Scottsdale hitless in his second outing since swapping uniforms as Phoenix beat the Scottsdale Scorpions, 7-4, on Tuesday.

"I was happy. I was going after guys, attacking with my fastball and working on off-speed pitches," he said. "I felt good out there."

The Seton Hall alum began the fall with Surprise, but got an opportunity to start more consistently with Phoenix. It was an easy decision to switch teams, especially since it wasn't really made by him.

"I was basically told by the Brewers and my coaches, and I said fine, I'll just do whatever they want," he said. "I'll play wherever. Wherever it is, it is."

Merklinger, who appeared at three levels in the Minors in 2010, joined fellow lefty Brewers prospect Lucas Luetge on the Dogs staff.

"The Phoenix team was down on pitching and I've been a starter all year, so it was a good opportunity for me to start in the Fall League," he said. "It's different -- you're always more comfortable with teammates you've been playing the season with, but I don't have a problem getting along with anyone. Everyone's been real nice and warm here."

Merklinger needed 58 pitches to get through three frames Tuesday after grinding through a couple long at-bats.

"A couple batters really put up a good fight," he said. "One was about a 10- or 11-pitch battle, and there was another long at-bat. There are just some good hitters up here. They were fighting off some good pitches."

Merklinger, Milwaukee's sixth-round pick in 2007, said he came to Arizona with the hope of getting his fastball over for strikes consistently. He said that was the key Tuesday.

"I was locating my fastball a lot better than I had been, throwing off-speed pitches for strikes and keeping the hitters off balance," he said. "I definitely wanted to continue attacking with my fastball, throw my breaking ball for strikes and develop my changeup. I think I've done a pretty decent job.

"You're also facing talented hitters and getting that experience is something I was looking forward to," he added.

The lefty walked two and hit a batter after working a 1-2-3 first. By the fourth, Phoenix manager Don Mattingly made the call to the bullpen.

"I always want to stay in," Merklinger said. "You've got to yank me by the collar to get me out of the game."

NOTES: Braves OF Cory Harrilchak knocked in three runs in the win. He's batting .344 this fall and has eight RBIs in his last seven games. ... Nationals OF Michael Burgess hit his first homer of the fall for Scottsdale. He's batting .245 and has continued to struggle with strikeouts. ... Orioles CF Xavier Avery doubled and knocked in two runs in the loss. He was in a 4-for-31 slide before the game. ... Oliver Drake, the Orioles' 43rd-round pick in 2008 out of the U.S. Naval Academy, made his fifth start for Scottsdale and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks over 1 2/3 frames. He struck out three. ... Nationals reliever Cole Kimball continues to dominate for Scottsdale. He struck out two in a scoreless ninth to lower his ERA to 0.90. He's struck out 11 and allowed just one run in his last nine innings.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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