4/8/2014 10:00 P.M. ET
Braun's three jacks power Crew past Phillies
Career-high seven RBIs, defense help Milwaukee win fourth straight
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Braun heard the boos, long and loud from a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park, and responded with his bat.
His glove wasn't bad, either.
Facing a more hostile reception here than greeted him over the weekend in Boston, Braun made a diving catch to save at least one run in the second inning, then homered in the third, fourth and eighth. He matched a franchise record with seven RBIs and carried the Brewers' to a 10-4 win, spoiling the Phillies' home opener.
They were Braun's first RBIs of this season and his first three regular season home runs since last May 22, when he was first dealing with the nerve issue near his right thumb that has taken away his power. That Braun was suddenly able to drive the ball on Tuesday after 98 plate appearances without a home run -- the longest power outage of his career -- surprised Braun himself.
"I didn't think there was any chance I could have possibly had a day like this," he said. "The game works in mysterious ways."
His third-inning, three-run home run off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead. It was a good pitch; a low sinker at 89 mph. Braun called it "lucky."
The next two were pitchers' mistakes. Kendrick put another sinker belt-high in the fourth inning and Braun hit it out to right-center field. In the eighth, Phillies reliever Brad Lincoln hung a slider and Braun hit it 388 feet to the left-center-field seats for another three-run shot, the longest homer of the night.
With 214 career home runs, Braun moved past Geoff Jenkins (212) for third on the Brewers' all-time leaderboard, trailing only Robin Yount (251) and Prince Fielder (230).
It was Braun's second career three-homer game (the other was April 30, 2012, at Petco Park in San Diego) and the eighth seven-RBI game in Brewers history. Jonathan Lucroy had accounted for the last two, both in 2012. The only other player in franchise history to hit three home runs and drive in seven runs had been Corey Hart, in May 2011, against the Nationals.
"It's all a matter of time with [Braun], man," Lucroy said. "His hand/eye coordination is so good. That's not artificial, you know what I mean? He was struggling, his first two series were rough, but today, he won the game for us."
Mark Reynolds and Scooter Gennett also drove in a run apiece and Lucroy scored a pair of runs to back Brewers starter Kyle Lohse, who pitched five hard-fought innings. Lohse allowed three runs on seven hits while throwing 107 pitches, and his five walks were one shy of a career high. Lohse has walked at least five batters only 11 times in a career that spans 365 Major League starts.
Even with Lohse's shaky outing, Brewers starters have combined for a 2.09 ERA through the team's first seven games, and no individual pitcher has surrendered more than three runs in a game.
"There were three or four innings where I got the first two guys out and just couldn't get the third out," Lohse said. "I don't know. Just a little bit off, and that's all it takes some time. I was in battle mode from early on, just trying not to allow a big inning. It's a 'bend but don't break' kind of a thing.'
Braun was booed lustily by a sellout crowd every time he stepped onto the field, beginning with foul-line introductions. He grounded out in his first at-bat in the first inning, but heard a particularly loud reaction in the bottom of the second, when, with two outs and two Phillies runners on base against Lohse, Braun charged a Ruiz fly ball and made a diving catch to end the inning.
A half-inning later, Braun's first homer gave the Brewers their first lead.
"We didn't really have an answer for Ryan Braun offensively, and I thought the diving play that he made in the second inning was a big play," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We had a chance to take a 3-1 lead, maybe more. They bounced back with our sloppy defense and they put up four there [in the third inning]. A huge momentum change in two sides of an inning there."
Said Ryan Howard: "When a guy catches fire like that, it's tough."
Howard has dealt with leg injuries for parts of the past two seasons and has heard some boos from the Philadelphia faithful, but nothing like what showered Braun on Tuesday. Braun declined to detail for reporters what he heard from the stands.
"I love it. It's great. Seriously," Braun said. "As a competitor, I really do enjoy it. For all of us, it's a challenging game, a long season, and playing in an atmosphere and environment like this is certainly something that's motivating."
Later, he added: "I'm serious, it's very motivating. I wouldn't say that I want it if it's my choice, but I don't know that I have much of a say in how the fans are going to react. Might as well make the best of it."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has seen that attitude work before.
"I'm with the Angels a few years back," said Roenicke, who spent more than a decade on that club's coaching staff, "and we let Jose Guillen go, and there were kind of some negative things along with that. Every time he came back in town, our fans would boo him, and every time they booed him, he got a huge hit. I was just like, 'Leave him alone!'
"Really. It makes a difference. Those guys that can turn it up, you don't want to be messing with them."
The Brewers are 4-0 on their road trip, with two games remaining against the Phillies.
"It's great when we're coming into these places and winning games," Braun said. "I think here and Boston are two of the most challenging places in baseball to come into and win games."