MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ryan Braun picked a good time to break out of his early season slump.
The day before he is to be honored by the Milwaukee Brewers for winning the National League Most Valuable Player award last season, Braun homered, tripled and drove in two runs to lead the Brewers to a 9-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Braun broke a 0-for-16 slide with his sixth inning home run. He entered the game hitting .245.
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“It definitely good timing and it’s something I will be able to enjoy a little more now,” he said. “We won today and I finally got a hit.”
Braun admitted he had been pressing in recent games. During the first four games of the Brewers’ homestand, he was 0 for 14.
“Inevitably, you’re going to go through stretches where you don’t play well,” he said. “You just have to believe in the process, work hard every day and hopefully you come out of it sooner than later.”
The other key Saturday for the Brewers was the pitching of Marco Estrada, who filled in for Chris Narveson. Narveson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a torn left rotator cuff. Estrada, who had a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings, retired 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Estrada was very impressive and would remain as the team’s fifth starter in Navreson’s absence.
“He did the same thing he did for us last year,” Roenicke said. “He put up a lot of innings with a lot of zeroes. His fastball was really good tonight.”
Estrada said he was nervous before the game, but said he calmed down after striking out the side in the first inning.
“It felt really good out there especially because we won,” he said.
Alex Gonzalez added three hits, including a three-run home run, and drove in four runs for the Brewers, who scored their highest run total of the season.
Milwaukee broke the game open with six runs in the seventh inning. Rickie Weeks hit a tiebreaking RBI triple off Esmil Rogers (0-1), and Gonzalez connected for three-run homer after the Rookies intentionally walked Corey Hart to pitch to him.
Jose Veras (2-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning to get the win.
Troy Tulowitzki hit his second homer of the season to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
Drew Pomeranz also had a strong start for Colorado, striking out six and yielding two runs and two hits in five innings.
Pomeranz was perfect through four. But he issued a leadoff walk to Aramis Ramirez in the fifth and Corey Hart followed with a ground-rule double to center. Ramirez scored on a passed ball and Hart scored on Gonzalez’s double to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
The Rockies responded with two in the sixth. Dexter Fowler drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and Tulowitzki had an RBI single.
Braun lined the second pitch he saw in the bottom half over the wall in center, tying it at 3.
“Ryan Braun has done that before to a lot of different people,” he said. “So that ball gets hit out of the ballpark. I think that’s once again like I talked about trying to pitch to these hitters in that part of their order from behind in the count normally doesn’t work very well.”
Pomeranz, who struggled in his first start against Arizona April 15, said he lost his rhythm in the fifth inning.
“I started pulling my front side a little bit and was missing in to righties, away from lefties,” he said. “Just kind of struggled there for a minute to get it all together.”
Todd Helton hit his fourth homer in the ninth inning for Colorado.
NOTES: Tracy said starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa threw four innings Saturday in an extended spring training game. De La Rosa (elbow surgery) is on the 15-day disabled list and Tracy said there is no timetable for his return. … Brewers reliever Kameron Loe was placed on the bereavement list after the death of his grandfather. The Brewers called up RHP Willy Peralta from Triple-A Nashville. … Rockies reliever Josh Roenicke pitched the eighth inning. Roenicke is the nephew of the Brewers’ manager.