video thumbnail

MIL@SD: Braun belts three homers off Padres pitching

SAN DIEGO -- Someone forgot to tell Ryan Braun that you're not supposed to hit home runs through the heavy air at Petco Park.

Braun did just that on Monday night. Then he did it again, and again.

Braun's first career three-homer game led the Brewers past the Padres, 8-3, and made him the answer to a trivia question: Braun is the first player ever to conquer the Padres' spacious ballpark with a hat trick of home runs.

He nearly made it a history-making quartet. Braun batted with two outs in the ninth inning and a chance to become the 16th Major Leaguer ever to hit four home runs in a game. No National Leaguer has done it since Shawn Green torched the Brewers on May 23, 2002, three years before Braun was drafted and five years before he debuted in the big leagues.

Braun hit another ball hard, but produced a low line drive to the right-center field gap. He settled for a two-run triple, good for his fifth and sixth RBIs.

"You know these nights are few and far between," Braun said. "It's a moment you try to embrace, you try to enjoy. It's been a challenge for me and for us all year."

Braun was coming off a 2-for-11 series in St. Louis. The Brewers dropped two of three games to the Cardinals and arrived in San Diego with a 10-12 record.

Now they're one win closer to .500 and riding a road winning streak -- albeit two games -- for the first time in three weeks. And Braun, who has been consistent in his inconsistency since Opening Day, may be entering another hot streak.

Braun set a Brewers record Monday with 15 total bases, and matched the club record for home runs in a game. It was the 18th three-homer game in Brewers history.

He also matched his career high with six RBIs. In one big night, Braun became the Brewers' leader in home runs (seven), RBIs (17), total bases (55) and runs (16, tied with Corey Hart).

"We've all been waiting for Brauny to do this type of thing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I know he has."

Brewers starter Randy Wolf (2-2) was out of the game two batters into the sixth inning but logged his first road win of the season. Kameron Loe bailed Wolf out of a jam in the sixth, the first of Loe's two perfect innings in relief, and Francisco Rodriguez and Tim Dillard covered the eighth and the ninth.

The rest was the Ryan Braun show.

"Ryan, obviously, he's been not himself, but he's working his butt off, and to see him have a game like this is awesome," Wolf said. "He's one of those guys that we definitely need to be on track and be Ryan. Tonight was an amazing night for him. It was a lot of fun to watch."

Not for Padres rookie Joe Wieland (0-4), who made his fourth Major League start and sliced through the Brewers' lineup over the first three innings, facing only one batter more than the minimum, only to run into the Braun buzzsaw. Braun's first home run of the night sparked a three-run rally in the fourth inning, and he added a two-run shot in the fifth.

Both homers warranted style points. His first sailed 427 feet to right-center field, Petco Park's death valley. The second smashed into the third deck of seats attached to the Western Metal Supply Co. Building down the left-field line. The Padres said it traveled 408 feet.

"I don't know if that was correct," Wolf said.

Braun added a wall-scraper in the seventh inning off reliever Ernesto Frieri, who fed Braun a first-pitch slider and watched a line-drive home run that just cleared the left-field fence.

The Padres are considering moving in those fences, a proposal Braun -- big surprise -- endorsed.

"It was just one night," he said. "But there's no doubt that this is one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging places to hit home runs in the league. I think, for fans, you want to see offense. Offense is exciting. I think if they [brought in the fences], it would make it a more neutral ballpark."

It was not all power for the Brewers on Monday. Alex Gonzalez accounted for the team's other runs with a fourth-inning double, and he combined with Braun and catcher George Kottaras for the game's signature defensive play in the bottom of the fourth.

Padres shortstop Jason Bartlett had doubled off the left-field wall, plating one run to cut the Brewers' lead to 3-2. A second runner, Yonder Alonso, tried to score on the play but was out at home, the relay throw going Braun to Gonzalez to Kottaras, with the catcher absorbing a bruising collision a step or two up the third-base line. Kottaras held onto the baseball for the second out of the inning, and Wolf retired Wieland to preserve the Brewers' lead.

Wolf pitched five-plus innings and was charged with three runs on nine hits. He surrendered at least one hit in each of the six innings he pitched.

"I still kind of stink," Wolf said. "It's really frustrating, mentally, because my stuff was the same."

The good news was that Wolf felt comfortable with his curveball for the first time all month. The bad news was that he missed with his fastball.

"I know I'm trying to be too perfect," he said. "That's a mental battle that I need to conquer."

Braun gave Wolf and the Brewers some breathing room.

"He's strong," Padres manager Bud Black said. "You're talking about the MVP of the league. He's got big power, and he showed it."

MLB.com Comments