MILWAUKEE (AP) Spring training gave Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson time to test his offspeed pitches, even though his 6.23 exhibition ERA indicated he was struggling.
A masterful performance Saturday against Pittsburgh gave the Brewers' young starter a huge boost of confidence.
Nelson struck out a career-high nine in seven innings, Jean Segura hit a two-run homer and Milwaukee became the last team in the majors to win this season by beating the Pirates 6-0 on Saturday.
''I didn't question anything at all, I just stuck to the process,'' Nelson said about his spring struggles. ''I was pretty happy with the work I've put in. Hopefully it'll stay right there. I'm just happy we got this one for the team, really.''
At 0-4, the Brewers had been off to their worst start since 2011. Both Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox won Saturday, leaving every team in the majors with a win.
Music blared through the Brewers clubhouse. There was a sense that the club could collectively exhale.
''I hope so. They feed on me too. The guys wanted to see me smile today,'' manager Ron Roenicke said. ''I had a lot to smile about in that ballgame.''
Especially with Nelson, the Brewers' top young pitcher. He landed the fifth starter's job following the vacancy in the rotation left by the offseason trade of veteran Yovani Gallardo to Texas.
On Saturday, Nelson turned into a stopper.
''I think he's started throwing his curveball, which, I don't think he threw that in the past,'' said Pirates outfielder Corey Hart, who went 0 for 3.
Nelson did indeed work on a curve in spring training, as well as his slider. He was already known for a sinking fastball.
But the curve, if Nelson continues throwing it the way he did on Saturday, could be the third pitch that he needs to win consistently.
''He has so much movement on his fastball that you have to be ready for it ... He dropped a lot of first pitch curveballs in there,'' Roenicke said. ''If he can continue to do that, he's going to have a fun year.''
Nelson (1-0) allowed two hits and benefited from two double plays.
Hector Gomez added a two-run single for Milwaukee, which stopped a four-game losing streak by tagging Vance Worley (0-1) for six runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.
Offseason acquisition Adam Lind had his ninth hit in his fifth game with his new team, tying a club record. Khris Davis led off the fourth with a double that set up Segura's deep homer to left-center for a 5-0 lead.
Segura is hitting .400 on the young season and driving the ball. He's off to a good start after struggling in 2014.
''As soon as you get that feeling, you're going to be comfortable no matter what,'' Segura said. ''You don't care who's on the mound, who's pitching.''
FIRST AT SHORT
Jung Ho Kang started at short for Pittsburgh, becoming the first position player to jump from the Korea Baseball Organization to the majors. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Kang said through an interpreter that he ''wasn't really anxious.''
''I feel good about it. There (is) a lot more to work on and show Korea and Major League Baseball.''
Pirates: Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was held out as a precaution for left knee soreness. Manager Clint Hurdle described McCutchen's status to return to the starting lineup as considered day-to-day, though the 2013 NL MVP said he planned to return to center on Sunday.
Brewers: Outfielder Ryan Braun went 0 for 3 with a walk in starting back-to-back games for the first time since leaving the season opener. Braun had what was termed as ''lower right side soreness'' after tracking down a fly ball to the wall.
Pirates: Right-hander Casey Sadler has been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis to make his first big league start on Sunday. He's taking Francisco Liriano's turn with the left-hander on paternity leave after his wife gave birth to the couple's fourth child, a daughter, on Friday.
Brewers: Starter Kyle Lohse will try to rebound after a miserable opening day outing during which he gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings.
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