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Kapler has homer, 2 doubles in Brewers’ 9-7 win over New York Mets

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BILL KONIGSBERG
April 14, 2008
— Gabe Kapler has gone from minor league manager to major league hassle for opposing pitchers.

Kapler, who managed in the Red Sox organization last season, homered for the second straight day, doubled twice and drove in three runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the New York Mets 9-7 on Sunday.


Not bad for a guy who was the manager for Class A Greenville at this time last year.


“I just think overall it gives you a different perspective on how to approach an at-bat, how to approach a day,” Kapler said. “I wouldn’t try to label it – surreal, spectacular. I’m just playing baseball, enjoying being at the ballpark, enjoying being in the clubhouse, enjoying winning games, enjoying being with my teammates.”


Manager Ned Yost said coaching is the best way to learn the game, and believes that’s changed the mind-set of Kapler, who played from 1998-06 for Detroit, Texas, Colorado and Boston.


“That’s a great experience to start coaching a bit,” Yost said. “You understand the game a little more and to be able to come back and still play it, it’s got to be a benefit to him.


“I’m not so sure when he wakes up in the morning if it’s not all been a dream. He’s just done so well. It’s been unbelievable what he’s been able to do.”


Corey Hart had a career-high four hits and Rickie Weeks homered and scored three runs for the Brewers, who won two of three in the weekend series.


The 32-year-old Kapler came out of retirement during the offseason and has four home runs in 26 at-bats. The last time Kapler had at least four homers in a season was 2004, with Boston. He didn’t get No. 4 that season until July 21, in his 159th at-bat.


Kapler is playing in place of Mike Cameron, suspended for the first 25 games after testing positive for a banned stimulant.


Meanwhile, the Mets had ample baserunners despite Jose Reyes sitting out his second straight game because of a strained left hamstring. They pounded out 14 hits and walked eight times. The Mets scored in each of the first three innings, but hit into double plays in each of the next five innings to squander scoring opportunities.


“That’ll put a damper on an off day for you,” manager Willie Randolph said. “Too many opportunities missed.”


Down by two with runners on the corners and none out in the eighth, Luis Castillo bounced to Prince Fielder at first. Fielder stepped on the bag and threw home, nabbing a sliding Brady Clark. Former Mets reliever Guillermo Mota then walked David Wright and Carlos Beltran before Carlos Delgado popped out to right.


“It wasn’t a good read by Brady. It was a mental mistake on his part,” Randolph said. “He doesn’t have to break on contact. You let them have one out.”


Brewers closer Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in five chances and second in two nights.


Wright hit his 100th home run, a solo shot in the first to pull the Mets to 2-1. But Wright failed in clutch situations the rest of the game, popping out to shallow right with no out and runners on first and third in the fourth and then grounding out to short on the first pitch he saw to end the sixth, after Brewers reliever Salomon Torres (2-0) had walked two hitters.


“We’re not executing and it’s frustrating,” Wright said.


Brian Schneider went 3-for-5 with three RBIs for the Mets.


Yost, trying to shake up struggling sluggers Ryan Braun and Fielder, flipped them in the lineup, moving Braun back to third, where he hit most of last season.


Braun had a two-run single, the third hit in 23 at-bats for last season’s NL Rookie of the Year. Fielder went 0-for-5, and is in a 2-for-24 slump.


Oliver Perez hadn’t allowed a run in his first two starts but struggled in this one. He allowed six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, walking three and striking out four.


Jorge Sosa (1-1) relieved Perez and gave up Weeks’ solo homer leading off the sixth to give the Brewers a 7-6 lead. Hart’s fourth single of the game later scored Kapler to make it 8-6.



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