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Fielder has 1st 3-HR game, Brewers top Pirates 6-4

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CHRIS JENKINS
September 28, 2011
— Prince Fielder remembers the last time he hit three home runs in a game. It was in high school, during an intrasquad scrimmage.

For all his baseball-bashing exploits, Fielder had never homered three times in a game in the majors until Tuesday.


After massive home runs in the third and fifth inning, Fielder hit a two-run shot in the seventh that lifted the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.


"You guys know me," Fielder said. "If I see it, I'm swinging hard."


Milwaukee star Ryan Braun went 1 for 2 with a pair of walks, and remains locked in a tight race with the New York Mets' Jose Reyes for the NL batting title going into the final game of the season.


Reyes went 3 for 6 in a loss to Cincinnati and is batting .336 for the year. Braun is at .335.


Rickie Weeks also homered for Milwaukee, his first since returning from an ankle injury and as much as Fielder celebrated his own home runs Tuesday, he actually seemed more excited after Weeks' drive.


"There's going to be more of those, I'm sure, from him," Fielder said.


John Axford pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 46th save.


Fielder's decisive final homer actually was the least impressive of the three, barely sailing over the wall in right field after he hit monster shots earlier in the game. But it was the last one that made the biggest difference, breaking a 4-4 tie.


The Brewers remained one game in front of Arizona for the No. 2 seed for the NL playoffs. The Diamondbacks rallied for a 7-6 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 innings, keeping alive their hopes for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


After Milwaukee's victory, the televisions in the home clubhouse were tuned to the Diamondbacks' game.


"They're fired up for it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said before Arizona wrapped up its victory. "They're fired up to finish this season off right to get into the playoffs and whether it's just home-field advantage, I don't know. But there's a very good attitude in how we're going about these games."


Fielder is happy the Brewers have something left to play for to keep them sharp, even after they clinched the NL Central.


"That's very important," Fielder said. "Not that we can't do it on the road by any means, but everybody knows we play a lot better at home. It's good to have the fans behind you, get your confidence, a little swag before you have to go on the road."


LaTroy Hawkins (3-1) took the win, and Jared Hughes (0-1) was charged with the loss.


Fielder's big night was the third three-homer performance for the Brewers this season and left him with 38 on the year. Corey Hart and Casey McGehee had three-homer games earlier in the season.


Fielder and Weeks hit back-to-back homers in the third. Weeks, who sprained his left ankle July 27 and returned Sept. 8, now has 20 homers this season.


Pittsburgh's Ross Ohlendorf scattered five hits in five innings but three of those hits went a very long way, thanks to Fielder and Weeks.


Brewers starter Randy Wolf struggled, throwing 111 pitches in 5 2-3 innings. He gave up nine hits and four runs, including a bases-loaded walk that turned out to be his final batter.


"I was a little bit off today," Wolf said. "And every time they scored, we seemed to find a way or Prince really found a way to step up and have big hits."


After beating the Brewers on Monday, Pittsburgh got off to a fast start. Neil Walker led off the second with a ground-rule double, then scored when a looping line drive by Matt Pagnozzi fell in front of right fielder Hart.


With two outs in the third, Fielder drove a 1-0 pitch from Ohlendorf to the second deck in right field, tying it at 1. Weeks then hammered a ball to left, appearing to rattle the window panes of a restaurant in the third deck.


The Pirates used some deception to take the lead in the fifth. After a ground-rule double by Ronny Cedeno, Ohlendorf came to the plate and faked a bunt to draw the defense in then swung away and made solid contact, sending a single through the largely vacant middle of the infield. Cedeno scored on the play to tie at 2.


Ohlendorf later scored on a single by Josh Harrison that glanced off the glove of diving shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, giving the Pirates the lead.


But the Brewers came right back in the bottom half of the fifth. Braun walked with two outs, and Fielder hit a huge home run to center.


The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, and Wolf walked in a run.


But Fielder wasn't finished. After Braun walked in the seventh, Fielder hit his third then came out of the dugout for a curtain call.


NOTES: Making a start in center field, Jerry Hairston Jr. showed his range by running down several fly balls. Roenicke rested Nyjer Morgan after he fouled a pair of balls off his leg Monday, but Morgan appeared as a pinch hitter in the eighth. ... It was the seventh time the Brewers have hit back-to-back home runs this season. ... Zack Greinke (15-6, 3.86 ERA) faces Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (0-2, 4.97 ERA) in the regular-season finale.



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