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Braun leads Brewers' power surge

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Associated Press
May 31, 2008
— Ryan Braun is battling a head cold and an inner ear infection, and that’s bad news for the Milwaukee Brewers’ opponents.

Braun homered and matched a career high with four hits, Manny Parra pitched six strong innings, and the Brewers beat the Houston Astros, 5-1, Friday night.


“I think it worked for me today,” said Braun, who has battled dizziness and other symptoms for more than a week. “I’ve been sick for a little while. It happens throughout the course of the season. You just continue to play hard.


“For me, a lot of times if I have some kind of small injury or I’m a little bit sick, I think it helps me relax. When I feel too good, I try to do too much.”


Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron also went deep for Milwaukee, which won for the fourth time in five games.


Parra (3-2) rebounded from a disastrous outing against the Washington Nationals on Sunday, when he gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. He allowed the Astros just one run and four hits, pitching around four walks and striking out six.


Brandon Backe (4-6) gave up five runs and six hits over five innings for Houston, which has lost three straight. Backe, who had won his last two starts, is 9-15 on the road in his career and 17-6 at Minute Maid Park.


Cameron hit his seventh home run in the first inning and Braun homered three pitches later, putting Backe in a hole early. It was Braun’s team-leading 14th homer.


“Backe is a guy that gives us troubles, so to hit two home runs in the first inning made you feel pretty good,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “That took a little pressure off us right out of the gate.”


Braun singled in a run in the third and Milwaukee added two more in the fifth. Braun reached on a single and Fielder hit a two-out homer just over the right-field fence, his first in 45 at-bats and seventh this season.


“I felt like I had pretty good stuff, I just couldn’t get guys out,” Backe said. “I had no putout pitches.”


Especially against Braun.


“He’s a guy who is seeing the ball real well right now,” Backe said. “


We have a guy like that in Lance Berkman. When he’s seeing the ball well, there’s not much you can do to get him out.”


Berkman, who came in hitting .474 (46-for-97) in May, had two more hits, including a bunt single in the eighth.


Miguel Tejada had his 13-game hitting streak snapped for the Astros, who did not get a runner past second base after the second inning.


Carlos Villanueva, sent to the bullpen more than a week ago after struggling as a starter, pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth for Milwaukee. Guillermo Mota took care of the ninth.


Parra, however, drew the attention of Houston manager Cecil Cooper.


“We faced him in Houston, and he wasn’t the same guy,” Cooper said of Parra, who gave up six runs and nine hits in four innings against the Astros on May 3. “He had command (tonight). When you have command and throw 94, it’s pretty tough to beat that.”


Parra said his performance was a confidence booster.


“Sometimes I just felt like I didn’t belong,” he said of his struggles this season. “I didn’t really understand it because last year I felt like I had a lot of success.”


Braun, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, also had success in 2007—and has carried it over to 2008.


“He’s real good,” Cameron said. “When he is right, he is probably one of the best in the game. He can hit all pitches out of the ballpark. He is not real big, but he’s strong. His balls travel for a long time.”



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