Big night for Aoki, but Rockies beat Brewers 4-3
Aoki hit an inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning, the first major league homer for the former Japanese baseball batting champion.
"I wasn't expecting to get a home run there so I was just running as hard as I could," Aoki said, through an interpreter. "I am just very happy with the results."
The excitement didn't last long, though, as Michael Cuddyer hit a tiebreaking RBI single off closer John Axford in the ninth inning and the Brewers lost to the Colorado Rockies 4-3 on Friday night.
The main bright spot for Milwaukee was the play of Aoki, who signed with Milwaukee in the offseason after the Brewers were awarded negotiating rights with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
He added a double and scored a run in the sixth, saying afterward that he was comfortable with the adjustment from star to role player.
"The results I produced in Japan definitely led to having some confidence over here, but that is in the past now and I am starting fresh over here," Aoki said.
Meanwhile, Ryan Braun went 0 for 3 but did reach base when he was hit by a pitch. Braun is 0 for 14 in the first four games of the Brewers' homestand.
The rest of his team isn't producing much power, either.
"It is not for a lack of effort," Braun said. "If anything, we are trying too hard. When you see other guys struggling, everyone tries that much harder to pick each other up. We know we will be all right. It is just a matter of executing and swinging at better pitches."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Braun's recent bout with an illness that is making its way around the clubhouse might be having affecting him.
"When he is good, he doesn't chase very much," Roenicke said. "He's chasing and jumping a little bit. We need to get him healthy. I think if he gets where he feels strong up there, I think that changes a lot of what happens with his at-bats."
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin doesn't expect Braun's struggles to last much longer.
"He's a good hitter," Chacin said. "He's an MVP. He's going to figure it out."
Still, Chacin was surprised to see Braun chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
"He usually doesn't swing at those pitches," Chacin said.
Pinch-hitter Jason Giambi hit a bloop single off Axford (0-1) to start the ninth, and was replaced by pinch-runner Eric Young — who took second when Axford unleashed a wild throw to first on a pickoff attempt.
"I just looked down to where I was throwing it," Axford said. "I should have looked at Mat (Gamel's) chest because we were not looking to pick him off and I just looked down instead of at his chest and threw it right where I was looking."
Young advanced to third on a flyout, and Cuddyer came in as a pinch hitter. Cuddyer singled up the middle, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead.
Chacin went seven innings, giving up three runs and four hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He also had an RBI single in the fourth.
Chacin retired his first 10 batters before Aoki hit a sharp liner in the fourth and the ball scooted past the outstretched glove of diving left fielder Carlos Gonzalez. The ball went to the wall, where there was a brief moment of indecision between Gonzalez and center fielder Dexter Fowler about who should pick it up. Aoki continued to cruise around the bases and was able to score standing up.
Aoki is a three-time Central League batting champion.
"He wants to play a lot more," Roenicke said. "He is doing what can to show us that he should be (playing more) so he is doing his part. He is doing everything we are asking of him. We'll see if we can get him in there more."
Brewers starter Shaun Marcum went six innings, giving up three runs and eight hits.
NOTES: Milwaukee placed LHP Chris Narveson on the 15-day disabled list with a tear in his rotator cuff. The injury still is being evaluated but may require surgery. ... Rockies reliever Josh Roenicke briefly chatted with his uncle, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, before Friday's game.