Parra nearly unhittable in Brewers' win

Parra nearly unhittable in Brewers' win

MILWAUKEE -- Rookie pitcher Manny Parra got his first one, and veteran reliever Eric Gagne got over his last one.

The two Milwaukee Brewers hurlers book-ended a 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, with Parra holding the Giants hitless until the sixth and Gagne working a 1-2-3 ninth to shake off a chaotic first outing in Monday's season opener.

Parra (1-0) recorded his first Major League victory, allowing two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts, while home runs by Ryan Braun and Gabe Kapler provided the difference on offense.

"I don't know if it's as good of stuff as I've ever had, but that's what I expect out of myself," said Parra, who compiled an 0-1 record in nine outings -- two starts -- with the Brewers last year. "That's me being aggressive, that's the way I was early in Spring Training and that's me pitching with the right mindset."

Parra won the fifth starter's job out of Spring Training following a string of outstanding starts, though two bad ones shortly before breaking camp ballooned his overall spring ERA to 6.10. Eugenio Velez tripled leading off the sixth, and the Giants finally reached Parra for two runs on three hits before reliever David Riske entered to extinguish the fire.

"We've been working on some things to get me more direct toward the plate, because I was kind of pulling off," Parra said. "I was just very aggressive, and I think I can go out there and do that consistently. It's about just trusting your stuff, and that's the hardest thing for pitchers to do.

"I realized I hadn't given up a hit at that point, but I was just making sure I went deep in the game. Although I didn't go as deep as I wanted to go in today's game, I just wanted to give our team a chance to win and keep the runners from scoring."

Braun took Giants starter Kevin Correia (0-1) deep in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Brewers a 4-2 cushion. After the Giants scratched out another run in the seventh, Kapler hit his first career pinch-hit home run off Racine, Wisc., native Jack Taschner in the bottom half of the seventh.

"When he came to Spring Training, you could see real quick this guy still had game left in him," Brewers manager Ned Yost said of Kapler. "He has played like this from the first day of Spring Training. He's a very solid player, very fundamental player and a winning-type player."

It was Kapler's first home run since July 4, 2006 as a member of the Red Sox. He spent the 2007 season managing Class A Greenville in the Boston system before un-retiring this year.

"I don't know why a guy like Gabe Kapler would retire, unless it was to bounce back from some injury issues," Yost said. "He has plenty of game left in him."

Ray Durham's home run in the eighth brought the Giants back within a run once more, and Gagne was summoned in the ninth, with hearty applause from the 30,574 fans at Miller Park.

The strikeout and two popouts were a far cry from his outing against the Cubs on Monday, when he allowed a three-run Kosuke Fukudome home run to tie the game. Milwaukee ultimately won that game in the 10th, but it was hardly the first impression the $10 million closer was hoping for.

"I was a little bit more relaxed and threw strikes," Gagne said. "I got out of my delivery a little bit in Chicago, and I've been working on it a little bit. I'm healthy finally on the mound and just worried about getting people out, so it's pretty good to be able to do that.

"I don't really worry about what I did the time before. I'm just happy we're winning games."

Catcher Mike Rivera, making his first start of 2008, drove in both of the Brewers' first two runs, with a two-out RBI single in the second and a booming run-scoring double in the fifth. Gabe Gross drove Rivera home with a single up the middle four batters later, making it 3-0.

It was not a banner defensive day, as the Brewers were hit with two errors, a run-scoring passed ball and another error on a botched caught stealing attempt that was later reversed to a stolen base.

The Brewers (4-1) will nevertheless go for a sweep Sunday -- already their second opportunity at a series sweep in the young season.

"We recognized last year the length of the season, but every game is obviously very important and significant, and we want to take all the wins we can get," Braun said.

JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.