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07/19/08 2:17 AM ET
Sabathia proves he is worth the price
Brewers ace dominant, goes the distance in series opener
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Brewers ponied up four prospects and more than $5 million to pry CC Sabathia away from the Cleveland Indians. So far, they are getting exactly what they paid for. Sabathia pitched his second straight complete game and won for the third time as a Brewer in as many starts, holding the Giants to four hits with 10 strikeouts in a 9-1 win at AT&T Park on a chilly Friday night. The Brewers and Sabathia began the second half right where they ended the first. Friday's win came five days after Sabathia went the distance to beat the Reds at Miller Park in the Brewers' final game before the All-Star break. "I didn't really worry about what these starts were going to be like," said Sabathia, who had played his entire career in the Indians organization before last week's trade. "I was just worried about how it was going to be in the clubhouse with different guys. That's been the easy part. It's been relaxing and it's made everything else easy." The Brewers have scored 19 runs in Sabathia's three starts, including the nine they tallied on Friday. Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron each hit a three-run home run and J.J. Hardy drove in a pair of runs to beat the Giants and starter Matt Cain (5-8), whose final pitching line -- six innings, seven hits, three earned runs, five walks -- belied how well he pitched. Sabathia was a few notches better, holding the Giants to three singles and an eighth-inning solo home run by center fielder Aaron Rowand. Before Rowand's blast, an infield hit was all that stood between Sabathia and a shot at the first Brewers no-hitter since Juan Nieves blanked the Orioles in April of 1987. Giants left fielder Fred Lewis led off the bottom of the first inning and legged out a bouncer to shortstop that momentarily popped out of Hardy's glove. It was immediately ruled a single by official scorer Michael Duca. "I definitely thought about it," Hardy said. "It would have been unbelievable if my play in the first inning could ruin his no-hitter. I would have gone up and asked to get it changed so he could have a no-hitter." But was it an error? "It definitely could have been an error," Hardy said. "When that was first hit, I was really questioning in my mind, 'Was that really a hit?'" manager Ned Yost said. "That's a play J.J. makes. It went moot as soon as Rowand hit that home run. It didn't matter." Sabathia insisted he was not thinking about that close call. He erased Lewis on a double-play grounder, the first of 17 Giants retired in order until the seventh, when Lewis reached on an error charged to Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. Sabathia stranded Lewis at third without allowing a hit, but Rowand led off the eighth and connected on a changeup for a home run that temporarily cut the Brewers' lead to 6-1. Cameron extended the lead in the ninth inning, a frame extended when Giants second baseman Ivan Ochoa could not hold on to Russell Branyan's two-out line drive. Sabathia surrendered a harmless single to Randy Winn with two outs in the ninth inning but retired Bengie Molina on a lazy flyout to finish his 21st career complete game. He became the first Brewers pitcher to go the distance in consecutive starts since Scott Karl on Sept. 3 and 9, 1996. The last time the Brewers got consecutive complete games was July 7-8, 1995, when Stave Sparks and Ricky Bones beat the Angels. Yost never called down to the bullpen on Friday. "I thought about getting somebody up, if that counts," Yost said. "But, no, we never got anybody up." Sabathia, who homered in Sunday's win over the Reds, again contributed to the offense with a double in the third inning off Cain. He scored the Brewers' first run on a Hardy groundout, a thrill for the family and friends from Sabathia's hometown of Vallejo, Calif., about 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco. He purchased 95 tickets for the game and joked that he pitched for free on Friday. Sabathia never had much success in Oakland (1-4, 7.12 ERA in eight starts), but Yost said he didn't worry about the big left-hander on Friday. "I don't worry about CC getting too hyped after his first game with us," said Yost, referring to a sellout win over the Rockies on July 8. "He didn't get too hyped then and that was a tester." In his three Brewers starts, Sabathia has allowed five earned runs in 24 innings. "I feel pretty good," the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner said. "I can't say I feel like a Cy Young winner, but I feel good. I want to keep doing what I'm doing so far."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.