Matt Garza declares slider is back, Milwaukee Brewers lose to Padres


The end of spring training is time for those final tweaks and fine tuning before the games start to count for real.

For the Milwaukee Brewers, that last part is particularly important.

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Matt Garza surrendered four runs on eight hits in three innings but struck out six batters in one of the stranger lines you’ll see and the Milwaukee Brewers wasted a comeback in a 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres as the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz., on Thursday.

“That was the best mechanically I’ve felt,” Garza told “I’m getting stuff back that I’ve lost and that felt good. Punching out people again, that’s my style.

“Losing that last year, it taught me how to pitch. When I didn’t have my slider—I was a fastball/slider guy—now I had to learn how to pitch. I have a curveball, I developed a changeup. Yeah, it was a terrible year without strikeouts, but I was able to get through it and make pitches and get out of stuff. I still don’t forget that and now I have my slider. It’s like, ‘Yay, new toy!’ I feel confident with my stuff right now and I want to keep it going.”

Garza has been working this spring on simplifying his delivery in an effort to avoid missing time on the disabled list, such as he did for a month last year because of an oblique strain.

But his 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings was the lowest mark he’d had since 2010, finishing with 126 punchouts in 163.1 innings over 27 starts last season.

Apr 2, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Neal Cotts (48) throws during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Garza now goes into the regular season, scheduled to start Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park.

The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Matt Kemp and made it 4-0 in the third on an RBI groundout by Justin Upton, a run-scoring double by Will Middlebrooks and a ground-rule double by Derek Norris.

The Brewers got a couple back in the top of the fourth. Ryan Braun led off against reliever Jason Lane with a double to center and Aramis Ramirez walked. Gerardo Parra lined a double to center to score Braun and Jean Segura plated a run with a ground ball to second base.

Milwaukee got a little two-out thunder to tie it in the fifth. After Lane got the first two hitters in the inning, Jonathan Lucroy and Braun hit back-to-back homers to left-center field. For Lucroy it was his fourth of the spring and Braun followed up with his third.

“I feel good,” Braun said. “I feel like I’ve had a lot of good at-bats, seen a lot of pitches,” Braun told “I feel like I have my mechanics in a good place where they’re repeatable. I’m hitting the ball well. I’m kind of hitting the ball all over the place.

Apr 2, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) signs autographs for fans prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

“I feel good where I’m at. It’s a good time to feel good about your swing and your approach, for sure.”

Braun has 13 hits in his last 23 at-bats after starting the spring 0-for-13 and returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting out with a hamstring strain Wednesday.

The Padres reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jeff Gyorko drove an RBI double to right off reliever Michael Blazek.

In the top of the eighth, the Brewers got to San Diego reliever Frank Garces. Nick Ramirez started the rally with a one-out triple off the glove of center fielder Travis Jankowski, who came out of the game with an injury. After Kyle Wren struck out, Martin Maldonado dropped a single into short right field to score Ramirez with the equalizer.

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  • But in the bottom of the eighth, Alberth Martinez doubled to center off left-hander Jed Bradley, scoring Diego Goris with the go-ahead run.

    Neal Cotts worked a perfect fourth for the Brewers, striking out one. Blazek was touched for a run on two hits in two innings, fanning two. Francisco Rodriguez worked around a walk, striking out one in a scoreless seventh and Bradley gave up a run on two hits and a walk, with a strikeout, in the eighth.

    Logan Schafer and Braun were each 2-for-3 for the Brewers, who had 10 hits.

    Right-hander Wily Peralta gets his final spring tuneup on Friday when the Brewers visit Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz., to take on the Cleveland Indians at 3:05 p.m. Central.

    Milwaukee wraps up Cactus League play on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park with a return engagement with Cleveland.

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