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Estrada fills in nicely

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Todd Rosiak
April 7, 2011
— Marco Estrada put himself atop the Milwaukee Brewers’ short list of potential early-season No. 5 starters with a solid showing in spring training.

On Wednesday night, he showed he might be capable of sticking in that spot until Zack Greinke is finally well enough to come off the disabled list.


The 27-year-old right-hander pitched well enough to overcome a shaky start and a sixth-inning home run by Jason Heyward, setting the stage for a 5-4 Brewers win over the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park.


Estrada went six innings, allowing eight hits, a walk and four earned runs to go along with four strikeouts in picking up his first major-league victory in just his third career start.


“It feels good,” he said. “I wish I wouldn’t have thrown that ball down the middle to Heyward. But other than that it feels great. We won, and that’s what matters.”


Estrada was 0-0 with a 9.53 earned-run average in seven games with Milwaukee a season ago, going three innings for a no decision against Minnesota last May 23.


The team held off as long as it could in announcing how to ultimately bridge the gap between Yovani Gallardo, who pitched a two-hit shutout Tuesday, and Shaun Marcum, who is scheduled to close out the series with the Braves today.


The Brewers purchased Estrada’s contract from Nashville early Wednesday, and later in the evening he found himself on the mound trying to keep the momentum going from Tuesday’s 1-0 win.


“I knew my name was in the mix, but I had no idea,” Estrada said.


when asked if he expected to get the call. “I heard a lot of names. It was up for grabs, and I’m glad they chose me to come out here.”


The way Estrada started, it looked as though his night could be a short one.


He gave up doubles to Martin Prado and Chipper Jones sandwiched around an out as Atlanta jumped out to a 1-0 lead, and very easily could have fallen behind by another run had Carlos Gomez not thrown out Jones at home on a Brian McCann single.


Estrada got Dan Uggla to fly out to right to end the inning.


The Brewers gave Estrada a lead in the bottom of the first with a couple of runs, and from there the Sonora, Mexico, product settled in. He allowed a walk and a couple of hits over the next three innings, then used a pair of strikeouts to punctuate a 1-2-3 fifth as Milwaukee extended its lead to 5-1.


“First inning, I’m not going to lie—I was (nervous),” Estrada said. “I just kind of talked to (pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz) and (catcher Wil) Nieves a little bit, and they kind of told me to calm down, do what I normally do, and I felt much better after that.”


The key, according to Roenicke, was Estrada’s ability to mix things up after the first inning.


“I thought the first inning he missed with location, and they didn’t miss hitting the ball,” Roenicke said. “But then after that I thought his location was really good.”


Estrada ran into some big-time trouble in the sixth. Jones and McCann singled to start the inning and after Uggla flew out to center, Heyward launched a 2-0 fastball 395 feet into the right-field seats to pull the Braves to within 5-4.


Estrada got himself out of the jam, though, first inducing a flyout to center by Alex Gonzalez and then striking out Matt Young to end the inning.


Now Estrada is hopeful for another chance.


“I hope so,” he said. “I knew it was a long shot for me. I wasn’t on the roster; I didn’t get invited into big-league camp. But I’m glad I opened some eyes, and I got the opportunity today.”



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