PHOENIX -- Japanese import Norichika Aoki hit his first stateside home run -- off the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, no less -- and a Brewers split squad scored a 7-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park.With two outs, Aoki connected on a full-count pitch from Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who limited left-handed hitters to a .178 average last season and all opponents to a .163 average in his first three spring starts. The homer sailed over the right-center-field fence to snap a scoreless tie in the third inning. It extended a hot streak for Aoki, who was 2-for-2 plus a sacrifice bunt and has 10 hits in his last 16 at-bats after starting the spring 5-for-32 (.156). He is now hitting .313 in the Cactus Leauge. The Brewers brought the three-time Japanese batting champion to the U.S. in January with a two-year deal.
"I feel happy getting a hit off a really good pitcher," said Aoki, who had seen Kershaw pitch on television. "I'm satisfied with the results, but in the end, it's still Spring Training games."Asked whether someone retrieved his baseball, Aoki said, "It's better for the fans to let them keep it." The Dodgers briefly tied the game at 1 in the fifth inning on Tony Gwynn's sacrifice fly after Brewers closer John Axford loaded the bases on two walks -- one to Kershaw -- and a single. But with Kershaw still on the mound in the bottom of the inning, Milwaukee answered, getting a go-ahead double from second baseman Rickie Weeks. Kershaw allowed two runs on six hits in six innings. He struck out two and walked two. The Brewers tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh inning and snapped a four-game winless streak behind right-handed starter Shaun Marcum, who made a successful Cactus League debut after being slowed earlier in camp by shoulder stiffness. He worked three innings and allowed only one hit -- Jerry Hairston's grounder through the middle with two outs in the third inning. Marcum walked one batter and struck out three, including Gwynn in the first inning after twice breaking Gwynn's bat on successive foul balls.
Up next: Left-hander Chris Narveson starts in Goodyear, Ariz. on Monday against right-hander Justin Masterson and the Indians at 3:05 p.m. CT as the Brewers regroup after split-squad games Sunday and start to ramp up for the regular season. Expect the positional starters to begin playing more frequently and deeper into games, offering a better idea of what sort of offense the Brewers will field post Prince Fielder. Left fielder Ryan Braun will return to the lineup after taking Sunday off, and the Brewers hope shortstop Alex Gonzalez is able to start after missing Sunday with a bruised right heel.