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No Braun, no problem for Brewers

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Milwaukee Brewers didn't look as if they were missing the National League's reigning home run champion.

And the Miami Marlins didn't play like a team that just got back the NL's second-best power hitter of a year ago.

In a battle of last-place franchises, the Brewers pounded out 16 hits and easily defeated the Marlins 6-1 Monday night at Marlins Park.

"We had a good offensive performance," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We got a lot of guys on base, a lot of hits. There are a lot of good things happening in our lineup."

Things should only get better once Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, who led the NL with 41 homers last season, returns from a right thumb injury. The former University of Miami star is day-to-day, but it's possible he could miss the entire three-game series.

Meanwhile, Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 37 homers last year, returned from the disabled list and went 1-for-4 with a single up the middle. He also struck out to end the game.

"We have to remember that he's been out for a while," Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco said of Stanton, who had been out since April 30 with a hamstring injury. "Big-league pitching is tough. You can't expect that just because he's back we're going to score 10 runs a game."

That was especially true Monday with the way Yovani Gallardo was pitching for the Brewers.

Gallardo (5-6) allowed just four singles and one walk in eight shutout innings. With his fourth and final strikeout, he reached 1,000 for his career. He trails only two Brewers on the all-time list: Ben Sheets (1,206) and Teddy Higuera (1,081).

"It's a big number," Gallardo said of his 1,000 strikeouts. "That's a lot of work. That's a lot of pitches thrown, but it's always something special to achieve things like that. I just want to keep going to get to the next one."

Leading the Brewers' offense were catcher Jonathan Lucroy, center fielder Carlos Gomez, second baseman Richie Weeks and right fielder Norichika Aoki.

Lucroy had four hits and two RBIs. Gomez had run-scoring singles in his first two at-bats and then tripled and scored in the seventh. Weeks also had three hits, including a solo homer, and stole a run with a great catch on a looping liner to second. And Aoki, who had two hits, scored two runs and made a brilliant running catch in deep right-center field.

"It's a big difference when (Braun) is not out there," Gomez said. "You can tell when he's not out there. He's one of the best hitters in the big leagues. But right now we have four or five hitters who have been very consistent. That helps to make up for his absence.

"I think he could play (Tuesday), but we need him to come back healthy."

It was the fourth win in a row for the Brewers (26-37), who improved to 10-17 on the road.

The Marlins, playing before a crowd of 13,259, have the worst record in the major leagues, 18-45. They are 8-3 against the Mets and 10-42 vs. everyone else.

Miami spoiled the Brewers' shutout bid when Juan Pierre hit a one-out triple in the ninth and scored on a groundout by Ed Lucas.

The Brewers got on the board quickly, scoring twice in the first inning.

Aoki started the rally with a leadoff double lined to the corner in right field. He scored on Gomez's one-single to left.

Gomez, who took third on the play after a throwing error was charged to catcher Rob Brantly, scored on Lucroy's hard single just past Nolasco (3-7).

Aoki and Gomez combined again in the second inning, extending the Brewers' lead to 3-0. Aoki singled to right and scored from second on Gomez's two-out single to center.

The Brewers made it 4-0 on Weeks' third-inning, two-out homer to left. The ball barely got over the fence and was measured at 351 feet.

As for the Marlins, if there was one positive they took from Monday, it was the return of Stanton.

"It was miserable to not be able to play all that time," Stanton said. "I'm happy to be back."

NOTES: Gallardo's eight innings Monday are a season high. ... Marlins 3B Placido Polanco left the game due to lower-back stiffness. He was replaced by Lucas. ... Now that Stanton is back, the Marlins' outfield of the future is taking shape. Rookie phenom Marcell Ozuna has moved from right to center. Christian Yelich, a top minor league prospect, could soon be the left fielder. ... RHP Henderson Alvarez, who was supposed to be part of the Miami rotation this year, threw 55 pitches Saturday in a simulated game. Out all season due to right shoulder inflammation, Alvarez could start a rehab stint in a few days. ... Brewers SS Jean Segura leads the National League with 84 hits. He is on pace for 217 hits this season, which would rank second in franchise history, trailing only Cecil Cooper (219 in 1980). ... Aoki entered Monday with just 12 strikeouts in 217 plate appearances, a ratio of one K every 22.6 times up -- the best mark in the majors. He improved on that ratio on Monday, as he did not strike out in five plate appearances. The last time he struck out was May 25 against Pirates LHP Jeff Locke.
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