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Brewers 5, Giants 2

April 18, 1998

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Jose Mercedes either arrives too late or leaves too early.

The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander, who missed his previous start when he thought the game began an hour after it actually did, showed up three hours before the first pitch Friday night.

But he had to leave the Brewers’ 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants after six solid innings when he jammed his right shoulder into the ground while diving back to first base in a futile attempt to avoid a double play.

``I thought I could have gone seven, eight or even nine innings,″ said Mercedes (1-0), who gave up two runs and four hits. ``But I don’t want to take a chance of hurting myself even worse.″

Mercedes said he didn’t think the shoulder strain was serious or would cause him to miss a start.

``They say he has no pain right now. I think it scared him more than anything,″ manager Phil Garner said. ``We’ll know for sure tomorrow. If he has some soreness and stiffness tomorrow, that’s an indication that he might have strained it a little bit. In any case, I don’t think it’s very serious.″

Mercedes gave up singles to the first two hitters he faced, then settled down and allowed just two more singles to the next 21 batters.

``That was the first time we’ve seen him,″ Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ``He had us off balance. He was throwing a lot of junk up there and mixing it in with some fastballs. We had him on the ropes a couple of times and didn’t come out of there with much.″

Mercedes took part in the pitchers’ pregame batting practice and got his first major league hit with a single in the sixth. But he was doubled off first when Fernando Vina hit a line drive to J.T. Snow.

Garner told strength coach John Rewolinski before the game that he felt his pitchers needed to practice running the bases.

``I don’t remember the last time we did,″ Mercedes said. ``I think it was in spring training.″

Garner has said his No. 1 fear during his team’s NL debut season was pitchers getting hurt, not at the plate but on the bases.

``I thought he reacted pretty darn good to try to get back,″ the manager said. ``He just jammed his shoulder.″

Al Reyes pitched the seventh, Mike Myers the eighth and Doug Jones the ninth for his fifth save.

Marquis Grissom and Mark Loretta hit two-run doubles off Shawn Estes (0-3), who was 19-5 last year but has struggled since spring training and saw his ERA balloon to 5.55.

``We haven’t helped him, either,″ Giants left fielder Barry Bonds said. ``We haven’t given him any run support. Sometimes you can take a good pitcher for granted and expect him to shut down the other team. Two runs should be enough. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way.″

Grissom, celebrating his 31st birthday, extended his hitting streak to 12 with a two-run double in the first, erasing a 1-0 deficit.

Former Brewers outfielder Darryl Hamilton led off the game with a single, took third on Bill Mueller’s single and scored on Bonds’ double-play grounder. Bonds’ sacrifice fly in the third tied it at 2.

Estes, who surrendered five runs on seven hits and five walks, gave up a two-run double to Loretta in the bottom of the inning, then balked home a run with two outs and two strikes on Mercedes, making it 5-2.

Hamilton said a golf ball and small football were thrown at Bonds from the left-field bleachers during the game.

Bonds, who wasn’t hit by the balls, said he wasn’t bothered by the crowd: ``It’s cool. It’s part of the game.″

Notes: Bonds also grounded out on a 3-0 changeup in the fifth and struck out looking to end the eighth, after which he jawed with home plate umpire Mike Winters. ... Brewers left-hander Scott Karl, who was hit in his throwing hand by a line drive on Tuesday, threw in the bullpen and took batting practice Friday night. The Brewers said he’ll make his scheduled start against the Giants on Sunday.

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