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Herrera gaining Crew's trust as bat awakens

Having earned everyday role, switch-hitter fuels pair of wins in doubleheader

CINCINNATI -- Elian Herrera hit one home run in his first 362 Major League plate appearances spanning three seasons entering 2015. He hit twice as many on Saturday alone.

Herrera's two home runs helped the Brewers sweep a doubleheader from the Reds at Great American Ball Park, 8-6 and 7-3. He hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning of the opening game and a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the nightcap that extended a two-run Brewers lead to five and allowed manager Craig Counsell to avoid using closer Francisco Rodriguez for the second time in about six hours.

Video: [email protected]: Herrera's homer puts Brewers ahead in 8th

"[Herrera] is getting better as a player; I really think that," Counsell said between games. "He's doing a nice job. He's played himself into an everyday role. He's earned it, and it's to his credit. He keeps producing."

Herrera has long been a utility man for the Dodgers and Brewers, known for proficiency everywhere on the diamond -- he's even the Brewers' emergency catcher -- and for his switch-hitting ability. But recently, he's become a fixture of Counsell's starting lineups, manning third base regularly since Aramis Ramirez was traded away and Hernan Perez faded to a bench role, and second base while Scooter Gennett sits out when the Brewers face a left-handed starting pitcher.

The result of those regular at-bats has been apparent in the box scores. Herrera entered August with a .206/.259/.363 slash line but had raised his average and slugging percentage to a respectable .244 and .420, respectively, by the end of Saturday night.

He's up to seven home runs for the season.

Video: [email protected]: Herrera's leaping grab snags Suarez's liner

"It's my first doubleheader in the big leagues, and I'm excited I could do something to help my team," Herrera said. "I think every [player] wants to do something like that -- have the big hit, the moment. We've been playing better, and we're getting the big hit. That's something everybody wants to have."

Of his more prominent role with the rebuilding Brewers, Herrera said, "I've been more blessed now, for sure. I'm kind of now not worrying too much. Just go and focus on everything I have to do. Every at-bat, I know, is important. I don't give up one at-bat. I just go out and try to do the best.

"I'm kind of sad because I've been striking out a lot. The kind of player I am, that's something I would like to help. But I can control what I can. I'm just happy for what I'm doing right now. It's a blessing."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Milwaukee Brewers, Elian Herrera