Braun’s 3-run homer off Hand lifts Brewers over Padres, 8-6
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ryan Braun left absolutely no doubt when he drove a high fastball from All-Star closer Brad Hand an estimated 396 feet into the second deck at Petco Park.
Braun turned his head, dropped his bat and began a trot that included a leaping high-five with third base coach Ed Sedar and a few mumbled words, perhaps directed at the San Diego Padres fans who had been booing him just a moment earlier.
Braun’s three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth capped a five-run rally against Hand as the Milwaukee Brewers stunned the Padres 8-6 Friday night.
It was Braun’s first hit of the season.
“That was a special one, all the way around,” Braun said. “That rally in the ninth inning was pretty special, facing Brad Hand, who’s established himself as one of the best relievers in the NL, so the likelihood of coming back is so close to zero in that situation. So many guys battled, grinded a bunch of two-strike hits, a few lucky hits. I was 0 for the season, so the longer you go 0 for the season the more pressure you put on yourself, so it’s nice to get the first hit.”
The Brewers trailed 6-3 coming into the ninth and quickly jumped on Hand (0-1) for two runs on three hits, a grounder and his throwing error.
Braun came up with runners on the corners and delivered the impressive shot.
“I don’t even think it was a strike,” Braun said. “I think I’ve been taking such bad swings I had a better likelihood of hitting a ball than a strike, maybe. I think it was up and out of the zone.”
Hand, a left-hander, said he was trying to go up and in to the right-handed Braun.
“It just leaked back middle,” Hand said. “He put a really good swing on that one and I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Said Brewers manager Craig Counsell: “This is the top for me. He might have a three home run game up there a little higher, but I’ll take this one.”
Hand had thrown two innings in the Brewers’ 2-1, 12-inning win on Thursday.
“Brad’s been outstanding,” manager Andy Green said. “He’s going to be great the next time he’s on the mound. That’s a tough one for all of us.”
Hand’s shaky performance spoiled a night in which left-hander Joey Lucchesi and reliever Kazuhisa Makita made their big league debuts for the Padres.
Oliver Drake (1-0) pitched one inning for the win and Corey Knebel struck out the side in the ninth for his first save.
Lucchesi just missed getting through five innings and Makita would have gotten the win if Hand hadn’t imploded.
Lucchesi, a 24-year-old left-hander, was the first pitcher from the draft class of 2016 to make his big league debut. One of the rebuilding Padres’ top prospects, he allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings, with one strikeout and no walks.
Lucchesi allowed a double, single and sacrifice fly after getting the first out of the fifth. After a throwing error by third baseman Cory Spangenberg put runners on the corners, manager Andy Green came out with the hook. Green brought on Makita. The submariner needed just two pitches to get Domingo Santana to ground out.
Makita threw 1 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing only a walk.
The 6-foot-5 Lucchesi, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, spent a good deal of the fourth inning on the bases after reaching on a fielder’s choice. He eventually reached third but didn’t score.
Lucchesi fell behind 2-0 after a shaky first inning.
The Padres gave the rookie a 3-2 lead in the second against Jhoulys Chacin, who pitched for San Diego last year. Spangenberg hit a two-run homer to left and Austin Hedges followed with a shot to left.
The Padres made it 4-2 on Manuel Margot’s one-out single in the fourth. They had the bases loaded but Eric Hosmer grounded into a double play.
Hosmer singled in the first for his first hit with San Diego and added an RBI double in the eighth. He signed a $144 million, eight-year contract early in spring training.
Chacin lasted just 3 1-3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking two and striking out one.
Brewers reliever Brandon Woodruff was hit by line drives by consecutive batters in the seventh. He was hit on the right triceps by a liner by Freddy Galvis that went for a single and then hit on the left buttock by a liner by Spangenberg that caromed to first baseman Braun. Counsell said Woodruff is fine.
Padres: RHP Colin Rea (right shoulder strain) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to allow the team to select Lucchesi’s contract.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter is scheduled to start Saturday night’s series finale. He was 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 22 games during six stints with the Brewers in 2017.
Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo is set to go for the Padres. He was 8-11 with a 4.67 ERA last year.