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WSH@MIL: Greinke cranks a solo homer to left

MILWAUKEE -- A couple of big hitters from central Florida's 2002 Draft crop led the Brewers to their third consecutive Miller Park sweep on Wednesday. You can probably guess one of them. The other? Maybe not.

Eau Galle High School's Prince Fielder matched a season high with four RBIs, but it was the Brewers' pitcher, Zack Greinke of Apopka High School, who put his team on top with a home run. Greinke's fifth-inning big fly hugged the left-field foul line and sent Milwaukee to a 6-4 win over the Nationals and another series sweep.

Yes, Greinke was as good a high school hitter as he was a pitcher. As a shortstop and first baseman at Apopka, he hit 31 homers, drove in 144 runs and batted .444 or better in each of his four seasons. He batted .480 as a senior with 10 home runs.

But then Greinke focused on pitching and was drafted by the Royals, an American League team. Before Wednesday, he had only one big league homer, which came off the D-backs' Russ Ortiz in Interleague Play in 2005. Both have been solo shots.

"He's always talking about doing that, so it's pretty cool," Fielder said. "Plus, it was a big run in the game, so that made it even more awesome."

Greinke's blast sent the Brewers to their third consecutive sweep at Miller Park, nine straight wins against the Pirates, Rockies and Nationals. The home winning streak marks Milwaukee's longest since "Team Streak" won nine straight in 1987. The club record is 10 straight home wins, from July 8-29, 1979, and the '11 Brewers will have to get through Tim Lincecum and the Giants on Friday night to match that mark.

At 19-6, the Brewers have the best home record in the National League and are off to the best start at home in franchise history.

"It's fun," Greinke said. "Every game, you're in it. Even if you give up a couple of runs, you know you're going to get a couple more. Everyone has been playing good. It's more fun watching the game knowing it's going to be a clean baseball game.

"It's confidence [at home] or something. We just play well, at least right now we are. If we give up eight runs, we'll score nine. If we give up none, we'll score enough. Whatever it takes to win is what we're doing right now. It's pretty nice."

The nicest part was that Greinke's parents saw him homer. Don and Marsha Greinke have been in Milwaukee for most of May, but they are leaving on Friday and were impressed by the number of fans in the seats -- including 34,419 more for their boy's start on a Wednesday afternoon.

"They're amazed by it," Zack said. "I don't see how they get so many people here, but it's pretty crazy how many fans come to games."

The fans watched the Brewers split the season series with the Nationals after being swept in Washington last month.

"They swung the bat a lot better," Nationals infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. said. "They're a good hitting team from top to bottom. They definitely took it to us this series."

Reporters gave Greinke a choice after the game: Did he want to talk about his hitting first, or his pitching?

Greinke (3-1) chose pitching. He worked seven innings and was outstanding aside from a three-batter, three-run flurry in the fourth, when Jayson Werth hit what Greinke termed a good pitch for a soft single, Laynce Nix hit a good pitch for a ground-rule double and Michael Morse connected for a tying home run.

The pitch to Morse, a first-pitch curveball, was not good. Morse was so hot to start this series -- two home runs, five RBIs in the first two games -- that Greinke planned to bounce his breaking ball in the dirt. Instead, it hung up, and Morse hammered it into the Brewers' bullpen for a 3-3 tie.

Greinke was sharp aside from that sequence. He retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced, and then 12 of the final 13.

"I was throwing the curveball for a strike a little better. That was the biggest difference, controlling the curveball a little bit," Greinke said. "It seemed like at one point in the game, all four pitches were working decent. I guess that's something to be happy with."

He struck out 10 batters in his 10th career double-digit strikeout game and threw 100 total pitches.

Greinke batted leading off the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Brewers ended up sending six men to the plate and adding an insurance run against three Nationals pitchers. It was such a long inning that manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz decided to go to the bullpen for the eighth.

LaTroy Hawkins recorded the first two outs of the inning, and Kameron Loe worked the final 1 1/3 innings for his second career save. Loe closed in place of John Axford, who had pitched four of the past five days and was deemed unavailable.

Nationals starter Jason Marquis (5-2) took the loss after allowing four runs on five hits in six innings. Fielder touched him for a two-run double in the first inning and a sacrifice fly in the third for an early 3-0 Brewers lead. Fielder also hit an RBI single in the seventh off reliever Sean Burnett.

It was 3-3 when Greinke turned on a first-pitch sinker and gave the Brewers the lead. When he got back to the dugout, Greinke was all smiles.

"He likes hitting. He likes talking about hitting," Roenicke said. "He was pretty excited about it."

Greinke joked of his Brewers teammates: "They're all upset now because they think I'm going to talk about it all the time."

Fielder was aware that Greinke had been touting his own power.

"At least to the other pitchers," Fielder said. "For him to hit a homer, I think he has some bragging rights now."

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