Chris Carter hit his first Brewers home run in the third inning and lifted a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the seventh for a 4-3 win over the Giants on Wednesday at Miller Park. The Brewers denied the Giants' bid for a season-opening sweep.
"I think we can all just relax a little bit and go back to playing normal," Carter said. "We don't have to worry about those first couple games. We're past that now."
Starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija of San Francisco (making his Giants debut) and Taylor Jungmann of Milwaukee struggled to command the ball early before settling into a game decided by the bullpens. After Buster Posey's sixth-inning sacrifice fly tied the game at 3, the Brewers rallied in the seventh against Giants relievers Javier Lopez and Cory Gearrin.
Scooter Gennett worked a walk from Lopez before Braun greeted Gearrin with a single. Gearrin struck out Lucroy, but a passed ball charged to Posey moved the go-ahead runner to third base for Carter's fly out to center field.
"We're going to win some games," Lucroy said on Opening Day, referring to outsiders' low expectations. "We're not going to go 0-162."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ninety feet away: The Giants put the tying runner on third base in the eighth against reliever Michael Blazek thanks in part to a lucky break. After Joe Panik led off the inning with a walk, Posey hit a sharp grounder to first base, where Carter fielded it, stepped on the bag and threw to second base ahead of the runner. Gennett didn't see Carter step on first, and assumed incorrectly that the force was in order. Panik wound up at third base with two outs for left-handed-hitting Brandon Belt, who scorched a line drive to deep center field but watched Milwaukee outfielder Ramon Flores run it down.
Blazek held the lead for winning pitcher Tyler Thornburg, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Jeremy Jeffress worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
"Those guys are in a little bit different spot than they were last year, a little more leverage spots," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You want that confidence to get you off on the right foot."
Funky first: The Brewers played shoddy defense and great defense, all in the first inning. The Giants took a 1-0 lead when Carter's high throw home ticked off catcher Lucroy's glove for an error charged to Lucroy, and extended the inning with Hunter Pence's sharp single off third baseman Aaron Hill's glove. But Hill prevented further damage by engineering a terrific double play, starting with his over-the-shoulder catch of Belt's flare, and throwing home to double up Posey.
"I think we're going to go awhile before we see a play that tops that for the season," Counsell said.
Another debut: One day after Johnny Cueto recorded a victory in his first regular-season game as a Giant, Samardzija looked somewhat shaky in the early innings of his Giants debut. However, he limited the Brewers to single runs in each of the first three innings and blanked them for the rest of his 5 1/3-inning outing.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gennett was an on-base machine in the season's Opening Series. He drew three walks in three games, a quarter of his total from 114 games last season. And two of those walks came against left-handed pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Lopez. In his career entering this season, Gennett had walked once in 119 plate appearances against southpaws.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Brewers and Giants completed 21 full innings before the season's first instance of replay review, and it proved a winning challenge for Counsell. It took the umpires less than two minutes to overturn Belt's stolen base in the fourth inning Wednesday, ruling Gennett applied a tag just in time for a caught stealing.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants:Jake Peavy will put his remarkable record against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the line in San Francisco's home opener beginning at 1:35 p.m. PT at AT&T Park on Thursday. Peavy owns a 14-3 record and a 2.38 ERA in 29 career starts against the Dodgers. That's the highest win total and lowest ERA among all active pitchers against Los Angeles.
Brewers: Brewers GM David Stearns, Carter, shortstop Jonathan Villar and right fielder Domingo Santana will reunite (again) with their former team beginning Friday, when the Astros come to Miller Park for the start of a three-game Interleague series, beginning at 7:10 p.m. CT. The same teams just met last week in Houston, but those were exhibition. Chase Anderson takes the mound opposite Houston's Scott Feldman.