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Brewers' offense breaks out for Garza

MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ace Corey Kluber believes he is on target for making his third straight Opening Day start for the Indians. The leader of Cleveland's rotation also feels there is plenty of time to shake off the rust that was evident in a 14-4 Cactus League loss to the Brewers on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark.

Brewers third baseman Lucas Erceg -- Milwaukee's No. 7-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com -- powered the offensive outpouring with a pair of home runs. Erceg sent a grand slam bouncing off a tin roof over the right-field stands in the sixth inning and added a solo shot to right-center in the eighth.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ace Corey Kluber believes he is on target for making his third straight Opening Day start for the Indians. The leader of Cleveland's rotation also feels there is plenty of time to shake off the rust that was evident in a 14-4 Cactus League loss to the Brewers on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark.

Brewers third baseman Lucas Erceg -- Milwaukee's No. 7-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com -- powered the offensive outpouring with a pair of home runs. Erceg sent a grand slam bouncing off a tin roof over the right-field stands in the sixth inning and added a solo shot to right-center in the eighth.

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Starting opposite Matt Garza, who allowed two runs in a pair of innings for Milwaukee, Kluber was charged with six runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings in his spring debut. Brewers catcher Jett Bandy delivered two run-scoring hits off Kluber, who was kept on a conservative throwing program in the weeks leading up to Monday's outing.

"It was nice," Kluber said of returning to a game environment. "In the first inning, I was almost a little too methodical, trying to just control myself just because it is a different step. But I got into a better flow after that, kind of a better rhythm. I was just going out there and getting built up, honestly."

The first four batters reached in the opening inning against Kluber, who ended with four strikeouts and two walks in the start. Bandy contributed an RBI single in Milwaukee's two-run first and added a run-scoring double in a four-run third. Tribe reliever Perci Garner took over for Kluber and yielded two of the runs on the starter's line.

"I saw him go out there and throw 60 pitches, which was the goal for today," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "It's just getting familiar with the mound again. He's looked really good all spring in his sim games and stuff like that. Goal accomplished today. Not a great tone set, but he got what he needed out of it."

Garza, entering his 12th Major League season and set to earn $12.5 million in the final guaranteed year of the richest contract in Brewers history for a free-agent pitcher, finds himself fighting for a rotation spot. Only Junior Guerra and Zach Davies are assured jobs so far, manager Craig Counsell has said, leaving Garza and four others to battle.

"I like where my stuff's at right now," said Garza, who is featuring more offspeed pitches as he loses some zip on his fastball. "I would have liked to put up a zero, but I got five ground-ball outs, one flyout, and two hard-hit balls. One misplaced fastball out of [28] pitches. I'm doing stuff I haven't done, doubling up on a lot of breaking balls. … I'm trying to adapt and change my style."

Third baseman Jose Ramirez highlighted the Tribe's offense with a double, RBI single and sacrifice fly.

Brewers Up Next: After taking Tuesday off, the Brewers return with split-squad games Wednesday at home against the Dodgers and on the road against the White Sox. Junior Guerra starts the home game (available via Brewers.com webcast), and among the pitchers set to follow is Milwaukee's reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Brandon Woodruff. Another prospect, Josh Hader, starts on the road against Chicago.

Indians Up Next: Following a team off-day Tuesday, the Indians will send righty Carlos Carrasco to the mound against the Mariners in a 9:10 p.m. ET Cactus League clash in Peoria, live on MLB.TV. Big league relievers Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Boone Logan and Dan Otero are also scheduled to pitch for Cleveland.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.