PITTSBURGH (AP) – Ryan Braun already was being booed loudly and that was before he hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal. The other three homers came in one game on April 8 at Philadelphia as did seven of his 13 RBIs.
Because he has been so prominently associated with performance-enhancing drugs, Braun is jeered wherever.
That was the case when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning and hit the go-ahead drive to center field off Pirates closer Jason Grilli (0-1), his second blown save in six opportunities. Jean Segura’s two-out single kept the inning going for Braun, who had three hits and three RBIs.
“The booing is just part of the territory and I take it as a challenge instead of personally,” Braun said. “If I make an out, it’s going to make them (cheer) but if I get a hit then it’s going to give me a good feeling. I’d rather feel good.”
Braun and the Brewers were feeling good after raising their record to a league-best 13-5, including 5-1 against the Pirates.
“Grilli’s a tough matchup for anybody and Braunie just crushed that ball,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “That was impressive.”
Grilli wasn’t very impressed by himself for giving up Segura’s hit on an 0-2 count.
“You can’t give up a hit in that situation. You either put him away or waste a pitch,” Grilli said. “That bothers me more than the home run.”
Jonathan Lucroy hit three doubles and drove in two runs for the Brewers. Mark Reynolds hit his fourth homer.
Ike Davis doubled, singled and walked in his first game for the Pirates. The first baseman was acquired from the New York Mets in a trade Friday night.
Jim Henderson (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Francisco Rodriguez finished for his sixth save in as many opportunities.
Braun got the Brewers within a run at 7-6 when he hit a solo homer in the seventh off Tony Watson.
Neither starter pitched well. Milwaukee’s Matt Garza allowed five earned runs in five innings, Wandy Rodriguez gave up four runs in four innings.
Clint Barmes and pinch hitter Travis Snider hit consecutive two-run singles to cap a five-run fourth inning that put the Pirates ahead 6-4.
Lucroy had an RBI grounder in the fifth to make it a one-run game. Andrew McCutchen made it 7-5 with an RBI double in the Pirates sixth but Braun rallied the Brewers to victory.
“It’s a game we probably shouldn’t have won but good teams find a way to win a game like this and I think we’re proving to everyone that we’ve got a pretty good team,” Braun said.
NOTES: The Pirates designated 1B Travis Ishikawa for assignment to clear a roster spot for the addition of Davis, activated C Chris Stewart from the disabled list and optioned C Tony Sanchez to Triple-A Indianapolis. . Pittsburgh SS Jordy Mercer did not play because of a sore left ankle. He was injured Friday night when Milwaukee C Martin Maldonado slid into him at second base while trying to break up a double play. INF Clint Barmes started in Mercer’s place. . Brewers 1B Lyle Overbay’s three-day paternity leave ends Sunday and he will return to the team for the finale of the four-game series. Milwaukee is likely to place OF Logan Schafer, who has a strained right hamstring, on the 15-day disabled list in order to open a roster spot for Overbay. . Brewers RHP Marco Estrada (1-1, 3.06) will face Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (2-1, 4.74) on Sunday. Estrada is 5-0 in his career against the Pirates with a 2.06 ERA in 11 games, including eight starts.724-312-9796
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