SAN DIEGO (AP) — Padres rookie Joe Wieland threw three crisp innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and then couldn’t finish the job. Ryan Braun had a lot to do with that.
Braun had his first three-homer game and added a two-run triple to tie his career high with six RBIs, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-3 victory over San Diego on Monday night, April 30th.
The reigning NL MVP became the first player to hit three home runs in a game at spacious Petco Park since it opened in 2004. His power show came several days after the Padres said they are studying bringing in the fences at the downtown ballpark to make it more fair.
Petco Park’s deep outfield, particularly in right and right-center, swallows fly balls that would be homers in other stadiums.
Braun hit a solo homer into the sandy play area beyond the right-center fence — one of the deepest parts of the park — with one out in the fourth. He drove a two-run shot onto the balcony on the fourth level of the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner with one out in the fifth. Both were off Wieland (0-4). Rickie Weeks was aboard on a walk before Braun’s second homer.
“On his first at-bat, I threw him fastballs away. I attacked him away,” said Wieland, who got Braun to fly out to center in the first.
“I thought I could go away again, but it was up.”
And way out of the ballpark.
“I continued to stay away,” Wieland said. “I came in once and beat him” with a fastball. “I went back soft, went curveball and he made me pay. A great hitter like him is going to make adjustments. It was a huge learning experience.”
Braun’s third shot, to left, came on the first pitch he saw from Ernesto Frieri, a slider with two outs in the seventh.
Braun came up again with two on and two outs in the ninth and nearly equaled the major league record of four home runs in a game when he hit a triple that short-hopped the right-center fence. The slugger has seven homers and 17 RBIs.
“It was just one night,” Braun said. “There’s no doubt this is one of the more challenging if not the most challenging place to hit home runs in the league. I think for fans, you want to see offense. Offense is exciting when teams are scoring runs. It’s a lot of fun for the fans to watch. So I think if they did do that, it would make it more of a neutral ballpark. As of right now it certainly favors pitchers pretty substantially.”
Shortly after he won the MVP award last year, ESPN reported that Braun failed a drug test in October with a high testosterone level. But he won his appeal and avoided a 50-game suspension. Then he made his case to fans upon his arrival in spring training, saying that chain of custody issues with his urine sample cast doubt on the validity of the test.
That didn’t end the controversy; baseball officials were unhappy with the arbitrator’s decision, and a urine sample collector issued a statement saying he followed proper protocols and that there was no evidence of tampering. Braun also has hinted that there’s more to the story than he’s letting on, refusing to share those details.
Randy Wolf (2-2) got the win after allowing three runs and nine hits in five innings.
Wieland became the third Padres pitcher to start a season 0-4 in his first four starts. He allowed five runs — three earned — and five hits in five innings, struck out eight and walked two.
“Joe’s a confident kid even though record-wise he’s off to a slow start,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “He has pitched some pretty good ballgames.”
San Diego took a 1-0 lead on Yonder Alonso’s RBI single with two outs in the second and was poised to add on when it got runners to second and third with no outs in the third. Wieland singled for his first big league hit and advanced on Chris Denorfia’s double. But Wolf struck out Jesus Guzman and retired Chase Headley and Nick Hundley to end the threat.
After Braun’s solo shot in the fourth, Aramis Ramirez reached on second baseman Orlando Hudson’s error, Mat Gamel singled with two outs and Alex Gonzalez doubled them both in for a 3-1 lead.
Braun’s second homer made it 5-2. San Diego added a run on Jason Bartlett’s double-play ball in the sixth before Braun homered again.