The Milwaukee Brewers are second in the National League in home runs. They added four more to that list in a series-opening win versus the San Diego Padres and look to make Miller Park a launching pad again today.
One night after Norichika Aoki belted a pair of home runs to lead the Brewers to victory, it was Corey Hart's turn in Friday's 9-5 victory over the Padres. Hart finished 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBI, while Martin Maldonado cracked a three-run blast and Taylor Green hit a pinch-hit two-run shot.
"We've had so many different things happen, we have a different lineup almost every day," said Hart. "We just have to stay focused and win as many games as we can."
Brewers starter Shaun Marcum took advantage of the run support and pitched well enough for the win, allowing three runs and six hits, including two home runs, through 5 2/3 innings.
Aramis Ramirez had two hits and an RBI in his return to action after missing some time with a strained left quadriceps. Milwaukee has won three in a row and eight of their last 11 games. They are four games below .500 and 4-3 on a nine-game homestand.
The Brewers will send Michael Fiers to the bump Saturday and he will make his third start of the season. Fiers won his 2012 debut on May 29 in a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers and hurled seven innings of one-run ball.
Fiers, though, came back to earth in Sunday's 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh and allowed four runs and eight hits over five frames with eight strikeouts. The right-hander has never faced the Padres and is filling in for injured starter Marco Estrada. Estrada is nursing a right quadriceps injury.
San Diego had a 2-1 lead until a three-run homer by Maldonado in the bottom of the fourth inning changed the momentum. Edinson Volquez allowed three homers in the loss and gave up six runs and six hits overall in five innings. Dale Thayer surrendered a home run and three runs total in relief.
"I threw a mistake, and that was the whole game," Volquez said of the three- run homer on the club's website. "I pitched a little different with the pitcher on deck. I threw a first-pitch breaking ball and a second-pitch fastball. It was a bad pitch."
Everth Cabrera legged out an inside-the-park homer and Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run for the Padres, who opened a nine-game trek on a low note and have dropped seven in a row away from Petco Park. The Padres have dropped 14 of their last 17 games overall.
Padres outfielder Will Venable hasn't played since Sunday because of a tight right oblique muscle, but is making progress for his upcoming return. Venable has been hitting off the tee and went through his normal pre-game routine prior to Friday's game. He is batting .268 with four homers, 12 RBI and 21 runs scored this season.
"We want him back in there," Padres manager Bud Black said on San Diego's website. "But we're going to make sure the side is ready to go. He's starting to pass some tests that gets him closer to action."
San Diego setup man Andrew Cashner has earned a 3-3 record and a 3.81 ERA in 27 relief appearances this season. He will make his second career start and first of the season this afternoon and has blown two saves in his last three appearances.
Each of his three wins have come after pitching a scoreless and hitless eighth inning at Petco Park.
Cashner allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings of a 6-5 win over San Francisco on Tuesday for his fourth BS of the season. The right-hander, who missed the majority of the 2011 campaign with a rotator cuff strain, is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in five relief stints against Milwaukee, spanning 5 2/3 innings.
San Diego won two of three meetings with Milwaukee from April 30-May 2 at Petco Park after losing three of five matchups a season ago.