PHOENIX (AP) — With young sluggers Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart grabbing most of the headlines, pitching often can be an afterthought for the Milwaukee Brewers.
But if the team hopes to contend in the National League Central in 2010, pitching will have to pick up the pace. The starters are doing their part so far this spring.
In the team's first give games of the spring, the starting pitcher has not given up a run — six hits, three walks and six strikeouts in 11 innings.
Left-hander Manny Parra was the latest to make his mark on Monday. He gave up four hits in three scoreless innings as the Brewers defeated a Seattle Mariners split squad 6-2.
Right-hander Dave Bush, also expected to be a key element in manager Ken Macha's rotation, followed Parra to the mound and had a solid effort, giving up a run on four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Seattle had eight extra-base hits but was just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 men on base.
Braun, Fielder and Hart did their jobs, too.
Milwaukee had a three-run first inning, with Braun producing one run with a single and Fielder getting his first two RBIs with an opposite-field double to left. Braun hit his second home run of the spring, a solo shot in the fifth inning.
"All the guys going for those five (starting) spots have been exceptional, really," Macha said. "They're all going out and pitching as good as they can."
Parra, who in two separate stints with the Brewers last season was 11-11 in 27 starts, threw the ball well but rushed his delivery at times, Macha said.
Bush was 5-9 in 21 starts in 2009 but missed nearly two months with a torn triceps muscle. He admitted he was a bit out of his routine, entering the game in relief, but generally was pleased with his outing.
"I felt good. I'm trying the simple things mechanically. I'm trying to get comfortable," Bush said. "I used all of my pitches and worked both sides of the plate. That's what I have to do, because I don't overpower people and I never will."
The Brewers are looking to solidify their rotation. Former ace Ben Sheets missed all of 2009 with an injury and signed with Oakland as a free agent, and Braden Looper, who was 14-7 in 34 starts for Milwaukee last season, is a free agent.
In addition to Parra and Bush, the other starters are expected to be right-handers Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Suppan and left-hander Randy Wolf.
The 5-foot-11, 268-pound Fielder showed his athleticism in addition to his hitting. He scored all the way from first base on a double by Casey McGehee in the third inning. And he made a good defensive play in the fourth, ranging far to his right to snag a ground ball, planting and throwing to Bush covering the bag.
"He went from 17 errors in 2008 to seven last season," Macha said. "He works on it (defense) every day. He wants to be a complete player."
NOTES: 3B Matt Gamel left the game in the third inning, but it wasn't because of the hard-hit ball by Eric Byrnes off his leg to begin the game. Gamel had shoulder difficulties, and will be re-evaluated, according to Macha. ... Veteran CF Jim Edmonds, a non-roster invitee, is making a strong bid for an Opening Day spot after sitting out the 2009 season. He hit a double and had one of his trademark diving catches in the ninth inning, holding a runner at third. ... The Mariners appear to be experimenting with INF Jose Lopez at third base and former Los Angeles Angels third baseman Chone Figgins at second . . . The Brewers optioned right-hander Alex Periard to Double-A Huntsville and sent right-handers Eric Arnett and Kyle Heckathorne to their minor-league camp for reassignment.