A day off over the weekend has seemed to do wonders for Ryan Braun.
Coming off his second career three-homer game, Braun looks to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to their fifth straight win Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Braun appeared to be feeling the effects of not playing since July 21 due to a season-ending 65-game suspension for violations of MLB’s drug agreement and labor contract as he got off to a 1-for-16 start in 2014.
Also dealing with a thumb injury, Braun was given the day off in Boston on Saturday and responded by going 2 for 4 the next day. He then went deep three times and drove in a franchise record-tying seven runs in Tuesday’s 10-4 win in the opener of this three-game series.
Braun is batting .405 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in 20 regular-season games at Citizens Bank Park. He’s hit .392 with 17 home runs and 37 RBIs in 44 contests against the Phillies.
”It’s a good ballpark to hit in,” said Braun, whose other three-homer game was in San Diego on April 30, 2012. ”And, I enjoy competing against Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.”
The Brewers (5-2) haven’t lost since Matt Garza took the mound last week, and he pitched more than well enough to earn the win.
Milwaukee totaled four runs and 16 hits in losing two of three at home to Atlanta to open the season. Garza was on the hill during the Brewers’ worst performance of that stretch, a 1-0 defeat last Wednesday in which they had two hits.
The right-hander had a no-hitter until allowing a home run with two outs in the seventh inning. Making his team debut after signing a $50 million, four-year contract in January, he gave up two hits and struck out seven over eight.
Garza issued his only walk after starting the game with 11 straight outs.
”I liked the way he threw the ball today,” manager Ron Roenicke said. ”He’s going to win a lot of games if he pitches like that. We just need to score runs.”
That’s something the Brewers are no longer struggling to do. They scored 17 times and had 40 hits in a three-game sweep of the Red Sox before collecting 15 hits Tuesday.
Garza is 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA in five regular-season starts against the Phillies, holding Rollins, Utley and Howard to a combined four hits in 33 at-bats.
Philadelphia (3-4) hopes to have Utley back after he missed Tuesday’s home opener because of the flu. Utley is batting .458 (11 for 24) with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs.
Rollins went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs Tuesday, giving him a team-high eight RBIs.
Roberto Hernandez gets his second start for the Phillies and the first of his career against Milwaukee after allowing two runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
”He did his job today. He looked good,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. ”Really liked his two-seam fastball, action on it was going down pretty good.”
The right-hander pitched a scoreless inning in Milwaukee in June 2006 while with Cleveland, and the only player on the Brewers to face him more than three times is Lyle Overbay, who has gone 3 for 16 in their matchups.
Milwaukee hasn’t opened 5-0 on the road since winning its first seven away from home in 1987.