MILWAUKEE — With their offense depleted by injuries, the Brewers were hoping for a strong start from struggling right-hander Mike Fiers on Saturday night.
They didn’t get it.
Instead, Fiers put the Brewers in an early hole that their watered-down offense couldn’t climb out of and Arizona pounded out a 9-2 victory.
Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill each homered for the Diamondbacks.
The start was another in a disturbing trend for Fiers (0-1), whose struggles began in last August and continued in spring training. He gave up six runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out one in five innings of his season debut.
“Commanding the baseball is the main problem,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said, adding that the problems could be caused by fatigue, lack of confidence or simply being out of rhythm.
“We need to find out what the answer is and get him on the right track,” Roenicke said.
Fiers said he thought he pitched well, but made a couple of bad pitches that Kubel and Goldschmidt hit for homers.
“They capitalized on a couple of mistakes and that was the game,” he said.
Milwaukee was playing without its star, Ryan Braun, who missed his second consecutive game with neck spasms, and cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez, placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a sprained knee.
Jean Segura had two singles and a double for Milwaukee, which has lost four consecutive games after beating Colorado on opening day. The Brewers had 10 hits, but went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“We got some hits today, we had opportunities,” Roenicke said. “We have to come through when we get opportunities. We have guys on second and third, we need some big hits.”
Besides missing Braun and Ramirez, Milwaukee slugger Corey Hart is expected to be out the first month of the season recovering from right knee surgery. The slew of injuries left journeyman infielder Alex Gonzalez to bat cleanup Saturday night with Yuniesky Betancourt playing first and batting sixth.
“Those are big holes, the best hitters on the team,” Jonathan Lucroy said of his injured teammates. “We have a lot of great hitters. We just have to step up and get the job done. That’s the bottom line. Period.”
After going 6-4 with a 1.80 ERA in his first 13 appearances last year as a rookie, Fiers struggled in his last 10 starts of 2012, going 3-6 with a 6.99 ERA. In spring training, he had a 6.98 ERA in 19 1-3 innings.
Roenicke wouldn’t commit to having Fiers take his next turn, and said he would talk with his staff about what to do next. With off days, the Brewers don’t need a fifth starter until April 20 against the Chicago Cubs.
Arizona starter Patrick Corbin (1-0) gave up a run in each of the first two innings, but settled in to win his season debut. The left-hander gave up two runs on eight hits and one walk with two strikeouts in six innings.
Arizona had 16 hits with seven starters each getting two hits.
“We hit the ball out of the ballpark today, got some big blows and kept the pressure on them,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “Got contributions from everybody so overall, a good day for us.”
Pitching for the first time in eight days since starting against Cincinnati in spring training on May 29, Corbin allowed a sacrifice fly to Gonzalez in the first and an RBI double for Segura in the second as the Brewers opened a 2-1 lead. He then threw four scoreless innings, departing after six innings.
NOTES: Infielder-outfielder Josh Prince was recalled from Class AAA Nashville to take Ramirez’s place on the roster. He entered the game in the seventh and flied out in both of his at-bats. ... Brewers left fielder Khris Davis doubled for his first major league hit in the second. ... A pitch by left-hander Michael Gonzalez that had been ruled a wild pitch Friday night was changed by the official scorer on Saturday to a passed ball by Lucroy. Two runners scored on the decisive play in Arizona’s 3-1 victory.