Cameron sparks Brewers' offense in win vs. Reds
Given the strength of their lineup, the Milwaukee Brewers knew it was only a matter of time before they'd have the kind of offensive outburst they're capable of putting together.
Still, it was a relief when it finally came.
The Brewers' offense finally woke up, Mike Cameron hit a pair of home runs to spoil Micah Owings' pitching debut for the Cincinnati Reds and the Brewers avoided a series sweep with a 9-3 victory Wednesday.
"I think everyone in here knows that we have a good team," Cameron said. "It's just a matter of going out and executing. I think that we're going to get better as the season goes on. It should be pretty interesting."
Milwaukee broke a 3-all tie with five runs in the sixth inning, getting an RBI double by Bill Hall, a two-run double by Jason Kendall and two-run homer by Rickie Weeks to take an 8-3 lead.
"You knew sooner or later their big bats were going to come alive," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
The victory gave Milwaukee a break from a rough start to the season. The Brewers came into Wednesday's game having lost four straight and six of their first eight.
"I think everybody feels better about themselves, absolutely," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "And I can look back at the homestand, drop those 'what-ifs.' For the most part, we were in every game."
Braden Looper (1-0) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings to earn his first win with the Brewers. He issued only one walk, halting a troubling trend by Brewers pitchers early in the season.
"One walk - that's the lesson," Macha said.
Looper went into the sixth with Milwaukee holding a 3-1 lead, but began the inning by hitting Willy Taveras with a pitch and Chris Dickerson tied the game with his first home run of the season.
Looper called his pitch to Dickerson, a fastball he left over the plate, "boneheaded." But he was happy to help the Brewers break out of their recent slide.
"Any win, one win, kind of helps you forget about it," Looper said. "Now you hopefully get on a roll."
Prince Fielder then led off the bottom half of the sixth with a double, sliding to avoid a tag. Owings (0-1) was taken out of the game and replaced by reliever Jared Burton.
"I got sharper as the game went along," Owings said. "But the results could have been better. I kept us in the game, and that's all you can ask."
Burton got Hart to pop out on a bunt attempt but walked Cameron to put runners on first and second.
Hall then missed a home run by inches, doubling off the left field wall to drive in Fielder and give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead. Kendall followed up with a two-run single, and Rickie Weeks continued the offensive outburst with a two-run homer that put Milwaukee ahead 8-3.
Owings was traded to Cincinnati by the Arizona Diamondbacks late last season but never made it to the mound for his new team because of a sore right shoulder. Owings, one of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball, did make four pinch-hitting appearances for the Reds last season.
Owings was supposed to start Saturday's game against Pittsburgh but the game was postponed by rain and Owings' turn in the rotation was skipped.
"He did a nice job," Baker said. "He was right on his 90-pitch limit, which is pretty good for a guy who hadn't pitched in 10 days."
Owings last pitched in a minor league game April 5.
Fielder's sacrifice fly in the first gave Milwaukee the lead, and Cameron put the Brewers up 2-0 with a home run on a full count from Owings in the second. Cameron went even deeper to left field to lead off the fourth, giving him his 14th career multihomer game.
Cameron also had an RBI double in the seventh.
SS J.J. Hardy was a late scratch from Milwaukee's lineup because of mid-back stiffness but said he expected to be OK for Friday's game in New York. ... Macha said closer Trevor Hoffman felt good after a bullpen mound session and will throw another bullpen Saturday in New York. Hoffman, who began the season on the disabled list with a strained right oblique, also may be sent on a rehab assignment. ... Cincinnati's Alex Gonzalez snapped an 0-for-17 skid with an RBI double in the fifth.