After rediscovering their stroke at the plate on the second half of their lengthy road trip, the Milwaukee Brewers saw their bats cool off upon returning home.
The Atlanta Braves are hoping some rare big hits as they wind down their trip are a sign of things to come.
Martin Prado’s(notes) grand slam keyed a rout in the opener of a three-game set in Milwaukee, and the Braves could get RBI leader Jason Heyward(notes) back as they look to clinch just their second road series of the season.
Atlanta (14-18) came to Miller Park averaging 3.9 runs per game, the third-worst total in the NL, and had scored 3.2 per game in going 2-4 through two-thirds of a nine-game road trip.
Prado and Troy Glaus(notes) helped lead the Braves to their best road output of the season Monday. Glaus’ solo shot in the sixth was Atlanta’s first homer in five games, and Prado capped the six-run inning with a grand slam en route to an 8-2 victory.
“It was a pretty good pitcher’s duel going there until the sixth inning,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “That’s when it kind of unraveled.”
Heyward (26 RBIs), meanwhile, is expected to return Tuesday, and his production is certainly vital to the Braves’ success. They’re 2-4 when he’s out of the lineup and 1-10 when he starts but fails to record a hit.
The Brewers (15-17) average an NL-best 5.7 runs, which got a big boost when they averaged 8.5 runs in winning five of six to close a 10-game trip.
Casey McGehee’s(notes) ninth-inning homer was the only offense Milwaukee got in the opener, and bouncing back Tuesday won’t be easy. Tim Hudson(notes) (2-1, 2.82 ERA) is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two May starts, and though he didn’t factor in a 3-2 loss at Washington on Thursday, he held the Nationals to two solo homers over seven innings.
Hudson is 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA in four starts at Miller Park, but he may want to be careful facing Jim Edmonds(notes). The four-time All-Star is 8 for 20 (.400) with a homer and five walks in his career versus Hudson.
Hudson’s mound opponent certainly doesn’t share his resume, but Dave Bush(notes) (1-2, 4.19) has been awfully tough on the Braves. He’s 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three career starts versus Atlanta, though he hasn’t faced manager Bobby Cox’s club since June 2008.
Bush is 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in four road starts, but he’s 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two home outings. He gave up three runs - one earned - over five innings Thursday at Los Angeles, but walked three and threw 95 pitches before exiting a game the Dodgers won 7-3 on a walk-off grand slam.
While Heyward is expected to return Tuesday, the Braves are hoping they won’t have to remove Chipper Jones(notes) from the lineup. Atlanta’s third baseman has also been battling a groin injury, and though he played Monday after missing a game, he left for a pinch runner in the sixth.
“I don’t think it’s any worse, to be honest,” Jones said.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez’s(notes) right shoulder is. The Brewers placed the center fielder on the 15-day disabled list late Monday with a strained rotator cuff that had kept him out since Thursday.