SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Braun credits leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar with providing a big offensive boost in his first season with the Brewers. With two hits and an RBI in Monday's 11-5 loss to the Giants, the Milwaukee shortstop isn't showing signs of slowing down, either.As he has for most
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Braun credits leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar with providing a big offensive boost in his first season with the Brewers. With two hits and an RBI in Monday's 11-5 loss to the Giants, the Milwaukee shortstop isn't showing signs of slowing down, either.
As he has for most of the season, Villar was the catalyst for a Brewers offense that had 11 hits and benefited from five walks off San Francisco starter Matt Cain.
"That's my job," Villar said. "I feel much better this year. Last year I got plenty of opportunities. This year I'm coming in and playing every day, and it's another opportunity."
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Villar had scuffled at the plate during Milwaukee's six-game homestand when he went 4-for-24, but he bounced back nicely in the first game of the Brewers' nine-game road trip. His two-out single off Cain in the third sparked a two-run outburst, while his bunt in the fourth contributed to extending another rally.
That helped raise Villar's average back up to .296, numbers the Brewers anticipated getting from their leadoff hitter when they traded to get him from Houston in November.
Braun, who was adamant before the game that the Brewers are better collectively than they have been in three years, said Villar is part of a nucleus of young players who have given the Brewers a significant lift this season.
"A lot of the young guys are good," Braun said. "Jonathan Villar's a lot better than I think anybody thought. This guy's playing at an All-Star level. He's a really good player."
Villar got plenty of offensive help against the Giants. Scooter Gennett had two hits and an RBI, giving him five multi-hit games in his last seven, while Aaron Hill singled and doubled to snap out of a 2-for-17 funk.
Milwaukee needs more of the same if it is to have any shot at reaching the postseason. The Brewers remain 14 games back of the Cubs in the National League Central and continue to scuffle on the road, falling to 11-17 away from Miller Park following the loss to the Giants.
"You never know what's going to happen," Villar said. "We have a couple guys hitting now."
Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Brewers on Monday.