PHOENIX -- Adrian Beltre passed another test on Saturday, as he prepares to leave the Rangers for the World Baseball Classic. For the Brewers, Keon Broxton appears comfortable right where he is.Looking right at home in the leadoff hole, Broxton hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning
PHOENIX -- Adrian Beltre passed another test on Saturday, as he prepares to leave the Rangers for the World Baseball Classic. For the Brewers, Keon Broxton appears comfortable right where he is.
Looking right at home in the leadoff hole, Broxton hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning and finished with two hits and two runs scored in the Brewers' 7-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park.
"I love the leadoff spot," said Broxton, who has been paired with Jonathan Villar atop Brewers manager Craig Counsell's most starting recent lineups. "I think I can do a lot of different things in the leadoff spot, as well as Villar. I think you can go either way. I'm still trying to refine my approach a little bit, keep it on the plate. Villar does a good job of that, as well."
Counsell has yet to finalize any lineup decisions, aside from Ryan Braun batting third. He gave Broxton the green light in a 3-0 count in the fifth, and Broxton connected with a no-doubt home run to left-center field, his second homer this spring.
"When [Broxton] squares the ball up, he hits the ball so hard," Counsell said. "Keon, he's been a quick learner since he's been there. The things that have happened, they have happened fast."
Hernan Perez, who will play for Venezuela in the Classic, also homered for Milwaukee.
Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez retired eight of the first nine hitters he faced before allowing a single to Broxton and a run-scoring triple to Villar with two outs. He retired six of seven batters in his first outing of the spring last Monday, and he has yet to issue a walk in five innings while striking out five.
"I continued to pound the zone, kept my mechanics, felt good and my defense played well," Gonzalez said. "It was good, overall."
Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Gonzalez, who struggled in three starts for the Rangers last season with an 8.71 ERA, appears calmer and more relaxed on the mound this year.
"You don't see the agitation in between pitches," Banister said. "He's a lot more methodical in what he does. He gets the ball back, he gets on the mound, kind of processes the situation and decides to make a pitch. ... We do see a difference this spring in what we've seen previously, where he was just rapid fire, get and go."
Brewers starter Zach Davies and relievers Brent Suter and Rob Scahill combined for four scoreless innings before the Rangers tied the game at 1-1 against left-hander Andy Oliver in the fifth on Ryan Rua's one-out RBI single. Rua pinch-hit for Beltre, who walked in each of his two plate appearances of his second straight Cactus League game. Beltre is testing a calf injury in an effort to join Villar on on Team Dominican Republic.
Broxton's homer in the bottom of the fifth inning off Yohander Mendez snapped the short-lived tie. Perez's solo homer came against Mendez in the sixth.
Rangers Up Next: The World Series champion Cubs will pack Surprise Stadium on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV, as right-hander Nick Martinez, who did not allow a run in his first and only appearance this spring, faces the Cubs' Jonathan Lester, who will make his first Cactus League appearance of 2017.
Brewers Up Next: Left-hander Tommy Milone, a darkhorse candidate in the Brewers' crowded rotation race who has pitched once this spring in relief, makes his first Cactus League start on Sunday, as the Brewers host the Rockies at Maryvale Baseball Park at 2:05 p.m. CT on Gameday Audio.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.