SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Jeff Suppan is facing a whole new situation, and a couple of outings against one of his former teams have helped his case for a starting job with the San Francisco Giants.
Suppan pitched three scoreless innings against Milwaukee for the second time this spring, and rookie Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer Friday to lead a split squad of Giants to a 7-2 victory over the Brewers.
``Suppan did a nice job,' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said before traveling to nearby Glendale for the other split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ``He had good control and was pumping that strike zone, throwing quality strikes.'
Suppan retired nine straight batters, allowing one hit - to Erick Almonte in the first - and striking out two in his first exhibition start. His previous appearance against the Brewers was in relief on Feb. 28.
Suppan, who has a career record of 138-143, said this is the first time since early in his career with Boston that he has not been assured of a starting spot. He is competing for the No. 5 slot in the Giants' rotation.
The 36-year-old right-hander worked a lot on his sinker on Friday.
``The movement was there, although I was underneath it,' he said. ``Location is the key. Some I thought were good, some not so good.'
Suppan agreed to a minor league deal with the World Series champion Giants in January. He went 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 15 starts and 30 appearances last season with Milwaukee and St. Louis.
He had mixed emotions about facing the Brewers again.
``I was around those guys for four years and saw what they like to do, but do I really know how a guy like Prince Fielder is going to approach me?' he said. ``You try to figure out a sequence and go with it.'
Fielder grounded out in his only at-bat against Suppan.
Belt, projected as a future starting first baseman, hit his first homer of spring training in a five-run first, a drove off sidearming right-hander Tim Dillard. Belt also singled in the third.
``When you get your first hit, your first home run, it's a good experience,' the 21-year-old Belt said. ``The more at_bats I get, the more I'm around here, the more comfortable I get. Aubrey and some of the other veteran guys have been very good to me.'
Huff gave him a big endorsement.
``You keep hitting like this and you'll make the team,' he said.
Catcher George Kottaras hit a solo homer in the fifth for Milwaukee, and closer John Axford pitched one inning in his first appearance of the spring after struggling with food poisoning.
``I liked the way the ball came out of his hand,' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ``He was a little up in the zone, but I liked the way he threw.'
Roenicke, who worked in the Angels' organization the previous 11 years, will manage against his former team for the first time on Saturday.
``I don't know if it will be emotional, but it will be nice to see some of those guys,' he said.
NOTES: Giants closer Brian Wilson (back) appears to be on target to pitch for the first time on Sunday against Seattle. ... Bochy said RHP Matt Cain possibly will throw a side session on Saturday after missing Thursday's start with an inflamed right elbow. ... With reserve C Eli Whiteside slowed by a sore elbow, Chris Stewart has done a nice job filling in for San Francisco. The 6-foot-5 Stewart is 4 for 10 in six games, and he has displayed a strong arm and good baserunning instincts. He scored all the way from first base on Aaron Rowand's double in the sixth inning Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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