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Brewers rally on Braun’s double in ninth

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RICK GANO
May 2, 2008
— Ryan Braun silenced a raucous crowd at Wrigley Field with his bat. He picked on a bases-loaded pitch from Cubs closer Kerry Wood, drove it into right-center and gave the Milwaukee Brewers a spirited comeback win.

“It doesn’t get any better than that, especially rivalry atmosphere and having a chance to quiet the fans down a little bit,” Braun said Thursday after his two-run double in Milwaukee’s three-run ninth helped lift the Brewers to a 4-3 victory.


“This is the type of game that we wouldn’t have necessarily won last year,” Braun added. “I think having gone through the experience and knowing how to control our emotions in a situation like that helped.”


Milwaukee, overtaken by the Cubs last season in the NL Central despite an 8½-game lead in June, bounced back from a 19-5 loss on Wednesday night.


Wood (2-1) blew his third save in seven chances and wasted a fine performance by Carlos Zambrano, who pitched 6 1-3 innings and helped himself with his 13th career homer — tying the team record held by Ferguson Jenkins.


With the Cubs ahead 3-1, Wood hit leadoff batter Craig Counsell in the ninth and pinch-hitter Gabe Kapler doubled over the head off left fielder Alfonso Soriano — who came off the disabled list Thursday after being sidelined with a strained right calf.


Should Soriano have caught the ball? No one was sure, but Chicago manager Lou Piniella — known for his past meltdowns — became perturbed and raised his voice when asked if Soriano should have even been in the game at that point.


Reed Johnson, who started in center, had been replaced by Felix Pie in the eighth, and Piniella was asked if he considered moving Johnson to left.


“You damn right I thought about it,” an agitated Piniella said. “You think I’m stupid or something? God darnit.”


Jason Kendall followed Kapler with an RBI single up the middle that shortstop Ryan Theriot knocked down, preventing the tying run from scoring.


Wood walked Rickie Weeks to load the bases before striking out Mike Cameron. But Braun lined a double to right-center to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead. Weeks was cut down at the plate on a relay throw from second baseman Mike Fontenot.


Soriano, who was 0-for-4, said the wind carried Kapler’s double.


“I feel 100 percent with my legs and I think I have a very good jump,” Soriano said. “He hit a line drive off balance and the ball goes like one bounce to the left-field wall. I think the wind got that ball.”


Wood said he put himself in an early hole by hitting Counsell.


“Come in the game and do your job. Get guys out. It’s simple. And I didn’t,” Wood said.


Braun homered in the sixth and went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Brian Shouse (2-0) got the final out in the eighth and Eric Gagne pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 13 chances.


“The way Zambrano was throwing the ball and the loss yesterday, I think it speaks volumes to our character and resiliency,” Braun said. “It’s a huge win and huge win of the series as well.”


Zambrano allowed seven hits and a run, struck out three and walked two. Mark DeRosa and Geovany Soto each drove in a run for the Cubs, who got six RBIs from Soto on Wednesday night. Kosuke Fukudome went 4-for-4 and made a great throw to nail Prince Fielder at the plate.


Zambrano hit his first homer in the third but Braun went deep in the sixth to tie it. Fielder followed with a high fly to shallow right-center. Center fielder Reed Johnson and right fielder Fukudome both called for it and their gloves collided, leading to the ball dropping to the ground. Johnson was charged with a two-base error.


One out later, Bill Hall singled to right and the 270-pound Fielder charged around third like a bull. Fukudome made a perfect throw from right and Soto held on and kept his feet, despite Fielder’s attempt to knock him over and jar the ball loose.


Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo lasted six innings, surrendering nine hits and three runs with a walk and four strikeouts.


He somehow avoided serious injury in the fifth on a play at first. After Johnson hit a slow roller to Fielder, Gallardo rushed toward first to cover the bag. But as Fielder went to tag a sliding Johnson, Gallardo hurdled the baserunner and landed awkwardly on his right leg.


Gallardo was on the ground in pain as a trainer and manager Ned Yost came out, but after several minutes he got up and was able to walk it off. He then returned to the mound to continue his outing.


It was Gallardo’s third start of the season after coming off the disabled list. He had surgery on Feb. 19 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.



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