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Braun homers, Brewers top Astros 14-7

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COLIN FLY
April 23, 2011
— Ryan Braun had no idea what to expect in his first game after signing a $105 million contract extension that will keep him in Milwaukee for the next 10 years.

Nearly overwhelmed with emotions after a huge ovation in his first at-bat, Braun hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the third inning to lift the Milwaukee Brewers over the Houston Astros 14-7 on Friday night.


"I really don't think I could've scripted it much better, it was pretty cool," Braun said. "Definitely a special night for me individually and a great night for us as a team. A lot of guys contributed."


Milwaukee scored in every inning but the first and eighth. Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo hit a solo home run off starter Nelson Figueroa (0-3) and Carlos Gomez added a three-run shot in the seventh.


Gallardo (2-1) labored for a third straight start despite getting plenty of run support over his six innings. After allowing two runs in his first two starts, he's given up 15 in his past 16 1-3 innings.


Both manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg were ejected in the second inning as the Astros fell to 0-13 when allowing four or more runs.


Braun's shot landed in the Brewers' bullpen in left field to put Milwaukee up for good 4-2 and sparked a curtain call. The extension he signed will keep him in Milwaukee through 2020 and guarantees him at least $145.5 million.


"That's why he's worth what he's worth," Figueroa said. "I made a mistake and he made me pay for it."


Still, the standing ovation he got in the first inning took him by surprise.


"I had no idea how to respond. There's no blueprint, I really didn't know what to do. I was trying not to get too emotional, I didn't want to take away from my routine of the at-bat and I didn't want to disrespect the other team," Braun said. "But it was incredible, absolutely amazing."


Braun is off to the best start of his career and has reached base safely in all 19 games, the longest streak by a Brewer to start a season since Paul Molitor equaled that mark in 1991. After his 3-for-4 performance against the Astros, Braun is hitting .382 so far this year.


"I think I'm getting better. I hope that I'm getting better," Braun said. "It's been a pretty crazy 24, 48-hour period. I'm trying to enjoy it, trying to embrace it."


Fans held up lots of signs in support of Braun's big decision.


One read, "Go treat yourself to something nice" and another had a picture of a beer and a bratwurst with a greater-than sign opposite a beach scene.


"He does it all," Gallardo said.


Gallardo's homer made it 5-3 in the fourth and Yuniesky Betancourt drove in two runs to give Milwaukee a 7-4 lead in the fifth with a hard single underneath the glove of Astros third baseman Matt Downs that was first called an error.


Casey McGehee's double with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth off reliever Jose Valdez scored two and Mark Kotsay followed with a two-run single that made it 11-4. Gomez's three-run shot off Enerio Del Rosario made it 14-6.


"That's very important, to score a lot of different innings instead of just having that one big inning where you score five runs or something. It's important to spread those runs out," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "When I talk about consistently being good offensively, that's what I'm talking about."


Jonathan Lucroy's run-scoring fielder's choice gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the second just after home plate umpire Paul Schrieber ejected Arnsberg and crew chief Joe West booted Mills from the game following a mound visit.


The Astros went ahead 2-1 on Michael Bourn's run-scoring single and Angel Sanchez's sacrifice fly in the third before Braun erased it.


Houston cut it to 4-3 on Humberto Quintero's single in the fourth and 5-4 on Hunter Pence's fielder's choice in the fifth, but couldn't match Milwaukee's potent offense despite scoring twice more in the seventh and once in the eighth.


Mills wasn't around to watch it in person.


"It was good to see the guys keep battling, even though they got down," Mills said. "They kept fighting."


NOTES: Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks (left pinkie sprain) left in the sixth inning. He slid headfirst on a stolen base earlier in the inning. ... Brewers OF Brandon Boggs was called up Friday to replace OF Nyjer Morgan (thigh bruise). Morgan went on the 15-day DL on Thursday, retroactive to April 18. ... Astros 2B Clint Barmes (broken left hand) will take infield practice on Saturday, then leave for a rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Astros 2B Bill Hall, who played for the Brewers from 2002-09, made his first appearance back at Miller Park.



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