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Eager Mercedes Baffles Giants

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Jose Mercedes either arrives too late or leaves too early.

The Milwaukee Brewer 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 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.”

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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 [today]. If he has some soreness and stiffness, 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 yielded just two more singles to the next 21 batters.

“That was the first time we’ve seen him,” Giant Manager Dusty Baker said.

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“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.”

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

Grissom, celebrating his 31st birthday, extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a two-run double in the first inning.

Estes, who yielded five runs and seven hits and walked five, gave up a two-run double to Loretta in the bottom of the third inning, then balked home a run with two outs and two strikes on Mercedes.

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