Braun looks to continue his torrid hitting to help the Brewers extend their dominance of the Washington Nationals when the teams play the middle game of a three-game set on Saturday at RFK Stadium.
After platooning Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino to open the season with Corey Koskie still recovering from post-concussive syndrome, the Brewers (49-37) finally promoted Braun from Triple-A Nashville for a May 25 debut.
Braun, a 23-year-old who was drafted fifth overall out of the University of Miami in 2005, has batted .342 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 38 games with the Brewers. He had his first multihomer game to help the Brewers beat Washington 6-2 on Friday, improving to 4-0 in the season series and ending a three-game skid overall.
The loss was the 15th in 20 games for the Nationals, who share the worst overall record in the major leagues with Cincinnati.
“Most important, it came in a win,” Braun said. “It was crucial for us to get a win (Friday). Hopefully, we’ll play well in these three games so we can have some momentum heading into the All-Star break.”
The NL Central-leading Brewers, with an infield entirely comprised of home-grown players, have batted Braun third in their lineup in 36 games and second in the other two. Braun had batted .342 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 34 games with Nashville before becoming the NL’s Rookie of the Month in June.
“I saw him in spring training, and his offense wasn’t a fluke,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “You could tell he knows what he’s doing. You know he’s a thinker when he gets up there. He’s got a pretty good plan of attack.”
Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan (8-7, 4.90 ERA) takes the mound after lasting only five innings in his last start.
Suppan failed to record a decision for his second straight outing after he allowed three runs, five hits and two walks in the Brewers’ 10-3 win on Monday at Pittsburgh.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four career starts against Washington (34-52). He is only 3-5 with a 5.43 ERA in 10 road starts this season.
Pitching only three innings for the second time in three starts, Simontacchi gave up five runs and seven hits in a 7-2 home loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
“I just didn’t get the ball down,” said Simontacchi, who had won three of his previous four starts. “I need to execute my pitches a lot better.”
The right-hander fell to 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in nine appearances against the Brewers when he surrendered four runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-4 loss on May 8 at Miller Park.
Milwaukee right fielder Corey Hart extended the longest active hitting streak in baseball to 22 games and is tied with Cecil Cooper (1980) for the third-longest run in Brewers history. Hart is batting .337 (34-for-101) with seven homers and 18 RBIs during his streak.