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Braun HR caps 5-run 9th as Crew stuns Padres

March 31, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Add this to Ryan Braun's list of big moments at Petco Park.With the Brewers down to their final strike Friday and Braun still seeking his first hit of the season, he connected for a go-ahead, three-run home run that capped Milwaukee' five-run ninth inning in an 8-6

SAN DIEGO -- Add this to Ryan Braun's list of big moments at Petco Park.
With the Brewers down to their final strike Friday and Braun still seeking his first hit of the season, he connected for a go-ahead, three-run home run that capped Milwaukee' five-run ninth inning in an 8-6 win over the Padres. Braun made the same trip around the bases he made in May 2007 when he hit his first career homer here, and again in 2012 when he became the first player to hit three home runs in a game at spacious Petco Park.
"All the way around, that rally in the ninth was pretty special," Braun said. "You're facing Brad Hand, who has established himself as one of the best relievers in the National League. The likelihood of coming back is so close to zero in that situation. So many guys just battled, grinded. A bunch of two-strike hits, a few lucky hits -- to even get an opportunity to hit right there, everyone who hit before me had to do well.
"And, obviously, I was 0-for-the-season. The longer you go 0-for-the-season, the more pressure you put on yourself. It's always nice to get the first hit."
Hand, coming off two innings of work in Thursday's season opener, inherited a 6-3 lead after Brewers starter and former Padre Jhoulys Chacin was touched for four earned runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in his Milwaukee debut. Manny Pina and Jesus Aguilar singled to start the comeback, but the game's turning point may have arrived when Hand kicked Orlando Arcia's grounder back to the mound. The error loaded the bases with nobody out, and the Brewers would cut the deficit to 6-5 with RBIs from Jonathan Villar and Lorenzo Cain.

That set the stage for Braun, who drove home earlier runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly, but was hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season. He turned on an 0-2 fastball above the strike zone and sent it off the facing of the second deck in left field.
"I don't even think it was a strike," Braun said. "I think I'd taken such bad swings, I had a better likelihood of hitting a ball than a strike, maybe."
Said Hand: "I was trying to go up with a fastball. I got it up, but kind of middle-ish. He put a really good swing on that one, and it came back to haunt me."
The Brewers are 2-0 for the first time since 2008. On Thursday, closer Corey Knebel suffered a blown save but saw his team win in the 12th inning. On Friday, Knebel struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth for his first save.

Do comebacks mean more when they happen early in the season?
"You'd like to think," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "Because you've proven you can come back, it sets a good feeling for everybody. Regardless of the outcome, we put a good inning on them. That's what I was thinking going into Brauny's at-bat, especially when it was 0-2.
"It's important early, man. It kind of becomes a trait, and it's almost self-fulfilling for us as a team. They're going to battle, no matter what, but it's good to be paid dividends when you do."
Hand falters as Braun keys Brewers' escape
LoCain train: Cain stayed red-hot to start his second Brewers tenure. After going 3-for-5 on Opening Day, he opened Friday's game with a rocket double to center field that caromed off Manuel Margot's glove and finished the night 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, a stolen base and an RBI groundout amid the Brewers' go-ahead rally in the ninth inning.
"Things work out sometimes when you go up there and try to put the ball in play," Cain said. "Guys are just going up there, doing the job. I'm mostly trying to get on for the guys behind me. We've got really good hitters behind me."

Short night for Chacin: The Padres overcame an early 2-0 deficit by touching former teammate Chacin for four runs over 3 1/3 innings, with most of the damage coming when Cory Spangenberg and Austin Hedges swatted back-to-back home runs for a 3-2 lead in the second. On the way to posting a 1.79 ERA in 16 home starts as a Padre last season, Chacin surrendered just eight homers in 100 1/3 innings at Petco.
"It wasn't the way you want to start the season," Chacin said, "but my team picked me up." More >

Third-year Brewers shortstop Arcia is a fantastic defensive player, but he endured an embarrassing moment in the third inning when he lost count of the outs. With a runner at first and one down, Carlos Asuaje hit what looked like a routine double-play grounder to second baseman Hernan Perez. He fed the baseball to Arcia, who stepped on second base and, instead of relaying to first for an inning-ending double play, began to trot to the Brewers' dugout before realizing his mistake.
The miscue didn't burn the Brewers, however. Chacin needed one more pitch to retire Freddy Galvis on a groundout.

Padres right fielder William Myers exited for a pinch-runner in the seventh, and it was later revealed that Myers has been battling a stiff back for a little over a week.
Green indicated that Myers is "day to day," and it's unclear whether he'll play in Saturday's series finale.
"It just kind of came up in Spring Training a little bit, and it just lingered and stayed there," Myers said. "But I'll be fine."
Myers went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, his first hits of the year.
"We had four strikeouts tonight, which is a really low number for us. That's part of it -- with two strikes, put it in play. … We've changed the makeup of our offense a little bit. We're hoping there's going to be a little less [swing and miss]." -- Counsell, whose club has set Major League Baseball's all-time record for strikeouts in each of the last two seasons

Brewers: Left-hander Brent Suter, one of the three Brewers players to make an Opening Day roster for the first time, gets the start in Saturday's 7:40 p.m. CT series finale. Suter works fast and gets outs throwing more than 70 percent fastballs, even though they average 85 mph. With a righty pitching for the Padres, expect Eric Thames to get his first start at first base, coming off his 31-homer Brewers debut last season.
Padres: It certainly feels like a critical year in Luis Perdomo's development. The former Rule 5 Draft pick spun his wheels last season, after showing promise during his rookie campaign. The 24-year-old right-hander will begin his season in Saturday night's finale against Milwaukee at 5:40 p.m. PT.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.