Brewers beat Braves 2-0 in Braun’s first game back
MILWAUKEE — Brewers star Ryan Braun drew a standing ovation in his return from a drug suspension, then was ruled out in the first call overturned under baseball’s expanded replay system as Milwaukee beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Monday in a season opener.
Braun went 1 for 4 and stole a base in the fourth inning that helped set up a two-run double by Aramis Ramirez.
A smattering of boos during Braun’s first at-bat was easily drowned out by the overwhelming applause. The former MVP was suspended for the final 65 games last year in the Biogenesis doping scandal.
"It was special. It was an emotional moment for me," Braun said of the ovation.
Later, Braun had his infield single to lead off the sixth overturned to out after the call was challenged by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez under Major League Baseball’s new replay format.
The review took 58 seconds.
"I had a pretty good idea that I was out," Braun said, drawing laughs. "For all of us, we just hope they get it right, and they did get it right."
Yovani Gallardo (1-0) tossed six shutout innings for the win.
Francisco Rodriguez got the save, the 305th of his career. The veteran righty looked fine about two weeks after accidentally stepping on a cactus during spring training.
Making his first opening day start, Julio Teheran (0-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.
But all eyes in Miller Park were on Braun to start after the 2011 NL MVP played his first game since July 21. He was banned the next day.
It seemed like all was forgiven for most of the 45,000-plus fans in attendance.
"It’s special, we all know what he went through last year," Ramirez said. "For the fans to do that, it was very special."
Braun and Ramirez also missed time last season due to injuries.
With their third- and fourth-place hitters back, the Brewers like their chances with an offense that also features the speedy Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura at the top of the order. If the rest of the starting rotation throws like Gallardo, Milwaukee could challenge St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Injuries hit the Braves pitching rotation in spring training, but Atlanta hoped its potentially potent lineup could overcome the adversity.
Not on Monday against Gallardo. The righty did run into a little trouble with his control in the fifth after Andrelton Simmons singled and Jason Heyward walked with two outs to put runners at first and second for B.J. Upton.
But Upton, who struggled last season with a .184 average in 126 games, struck out.
Simmons finished with two hits.
NOTES: A trio of Wisconsin-born Olympians from the 2014 Winter Games in Russia threw out the ceremonial first pitches: Brianna Decker and Jessica Vetter were each members of the U.S. women’s hockey team that won silver, while Matt Antoine won the bronze in the skeleton competition. … Injured RHP Gavin Floyd and LHP Mike Minor are on the same rehab program in the minors for the Braves. Both are scheduled to throw Thursday and then go every fifth day barring any setbacks. The Braves plan to shuffle them between Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi. With four strikeouts, Gallardo assumed sole possession of second place on the team’s career strikeout list with 1,084. Ben Sheets is first with 1,206 strikeouts. … 2B Rickie Weeks’ streak of starting eight straight Milwaukee openers was snapped. … Atlanta LH Alex Wood and Milwaukee RH Kyle Lohse are the probable starters for Tuesday’s game.