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SAN DIEGO -- With an impressive display of power, Ryan Braun made Petco Park look downright cozy.
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. It came several days after the Padres said they are studying bringing in the fences at the downtown ballpark to make it more fair.
"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."
Petco Park's deep outfield, particularly in right and right-center, swallows fly balls that would be homers in other yards, particularly on cool nights like Monday.
Not on this night, though.
Braun hit a solo homer deep into the sandy play area beyond the right-center fence -- one of the deepest parts of the park -- with one out in the fourth. That homer was in the area where the Padres are considering bringing in the fences.
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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 rookie Joe Wieland (0-4). Rickie Weeks was aboard on a walk before Braun's second homer.
"He put some good swings on pitches. He's strong. You're talking about the MVP of the league," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's got big power and he showed it. After the first, he really locked in after that."
Braun's third shot, to left, came on the first pitch he saw from Ernesto Frieri 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's definitely special," Braun said. "It's an extremely challenging game we play. You're going to deal with a lot of failure, a lot of adversity, and when you have a special night like that you try to enjoy it and it's that much more fun and enjoyable when your team wins the game. It was definitely a pretty cool night."
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.
Braun began the night batting .263.
"You know these nights are few and far between," he said. "It's a moment you try to embrace, you try to enjoy. It's been a challenge for me and for us this year, and I think we got a couple breaks, a few things really went our way and you hope something like this turns our luck around, turns our momentum around."
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.
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 to center. But Wolf struck out Jesus Guzman and retired Chase Headley and Nick Hundley to end the threat.
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.
|The Brewers' Ryan Braun becomes the first player to hit three home runs in a game in the Padres' Petco Park. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Rickie Weeks, 2B||3||2||0||0||2||0||0||.186|
|Nyjer Morgan, CF-RF||4||1||1||0||1||3||1||.182|
|Ryan Braun, LF||5||3||4||6||0||0||1||.294|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||5||1||0||0||0||1||2||.214|
|Corey Hart, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||1||.270|
|Francisco Rodriguez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Tim Dillard, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mat Gamel, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.246|
|Alex Gonzalez, SS||4||0||1||2||0||1||0||.254|
|George Kottaras, C||1||0||0||0||2||1||0||.304|
|a- Jonathan Lucroy, PH-C||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.278|
|Randy Wolf, P||3||0||0||0||0||2||3||.000|
|Kameron Loe, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Carlos Gomez, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.318|
|a-struck out for Kottaras in the 9th|
|2B - Alex Gonzalez (4, Wieland)|
|3B - Ryan Braun (2, Thatcher)|
|HR - Ryan Braun 3 (7, Wieland, Wieland, Frieri)|
|RBI - Ryan Braun 6 (17), Alex Gonzalez 2 (14)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Braun 3 (4), Alex Gonzalez 2 (8)|
|CS - Carlos Gomez (2, 2nd base by Thatcher/Hundley)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Outfield Assists - Ryan Braun 1|
|DP - A. Gonzalez-Weeks-Gamel, A. Gonzalez-Weeks-Gamel|
|Randy Wolf (W,2-2)||5||9||3||3||3||3||0||6.84|
|Kameron Loe (H,2)||2||0||0||0||0||3||0||2.45|
|Francisco Rodriguez (H,5)||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||5.56|
|Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wolf 89-54, Kameron Loe 21-16, Francisco Rodriguez 17-8, Tim Dillard 14-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wolf 5-5, Kameron Loe 2-0, Francisco Rodriguez 1-2, Tim Dillard 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Randy Wolf 25, Kameron Loe 5, Francisco Rodriguez 4, Tim Dillard 4|
|San Diego Padres|
|Chris Denorfia, RF||3||0||2||0||2||1||0||.326|
|Jesus Guzman, LF||5||0||0||0||0||3||5||.209|
|Chase Headley, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.253|
|Nick Hundley, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.217|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||2||.211|
|Cameron Maybin, CF||1||2||1||0||2||0||0||.188|
|Yonder Alonso, 1B||3||0||2||1||1||0||1||.253|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||.172|
|a- Will Venable, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.243|
|Joe Wieland, P||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.167|
|Josh Spence, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Blake Tekotte, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Ernesto Frieri, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Joe Thatcher, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Mark Kotsay, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.235|
|a-struck out for Bartlett in the 9th|
|b-struck out for Spence in the 6th|
|c-popped out for Thatcher in the 9th|
|2B - Chris Denorfia (5, Wolf), Cameron Maybin (2, Wolf), Jason Bartlett (4, Wolf)|
|SH - Cameron Maybin (2)|
|RBI - Yonder Alonso (4), Jason Bartlett (4)|
|2-OUT RBI - Yonder Alonso (2)|
|SB - Cameron Maybin 2 (6, 2nd base off Wolf/Kottaras, 2nd base off Rodriguez/Kottaras)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - Orlando Hudson (2, Throwing)|
|San Diego Padres|
|Joe Wieland (L,0-4)||5||5||5||3||2||8||2||4.91|
|IBB - Kottaras by Joe Wieland|
|HBP - Gomez (by Joe Thatcher)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Wieland 100-62, Josh Spence 18-10, Ernesto Frieri 30-20, Joe Thatcher 26-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Wieland 3-5, Josh Spence 2-0, Ernesto Frieri 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Joe Wieland 23, Josh Spence 4, Ernesto Frieri 7, Joe Thatcher 6|
|Attendance - 16218|
|Game Time - 2:52|
|Temperature - 64|
|Umpires - Home - Brian Knight, First Base - D.J. Reyburn, Second Base - Mark Wegner, Third Base - Wally Bell|