Brown goes deep as Phillies outslug Brewers

Marlon Byrd beats the throw to Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay in the second inning, when the Phillies scored five runs to take a 6-5 lead.
Marlon Byrd beats the throw to Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay in the second inning, when the Phillies scored five runs to take a 6-5 lead. (MIKE McGINNIS / Getty Images)
Posted: July 10, 2014

MILWAUKEE - Manager Ryne Sandberg wrote Domonic Brown's name on his lineup card Tuesday for the 77th time in 90 games, a situation bred by despair and not merit. The Phillies must believe in Brown, 26, and nights like Tuesday rekindle the faint hope that Brown can overcome his malaise.

He ranked 158th among 162 qualified hitters in OPS before the 9-7 win over the Brewers started. He walked and scored in the second inning, blasted a home run in the third, and smacked a two-run single in the fifth. The Phillies equaled their scoring output in the previous four games with one eruption.

Brown emerged with a .608 OPS, his highest since May 3. His descent to one of baseball's worst everyday players was merciless. The organization's lack of a suitable replacement in left field is what has afforded Brown the chance to correct it.

The Phillies will promote Grady Sizemore within the next week. Sizemore lashed two more hits, including a double, Tuesday for triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has hits in eight of his nine games in the minors. The 31-year-old outfielder with seven surgeries and 156 major-league games since 2009 will be a "four- or five-day" a week player, Sandberg said.

That means Sizemore cannot supplant Brown, not unless he forms some sort of platoon with Darin Ruf. Ruf, still regaining strength after a fractured wrist, will continue to get at-bats with the IronPigs through the all-star break. The Phillies could carve time for Ruf at first base in a platoon with Ryan Howard.

"A little competition, that's usually a good thing," Sandberg said.

Brown, still, has the power to maintain his starting status. His Tuesday night powered a drab Phillies offense. He batted with two outs in the second inning and fought Brewers starter Wily Peralta for a nine-pitch walk. That prolonged the inning for Koyie Hill, who bounced a bases-loaded infield single to second. Ben Revere smashed a ground-rule double to right for two more runs.

Brown jumped a first-pitch Peralta change-up in the third for a solo homer. He went 15 games without an extra-base hit. It was his first homer since June 14, a span of 24 games and 77 plate appearances. That, remarkably, was not his longest drought of the season. He went 25 games (102 plate appearances) without a homer in April and May.

Brown had 23 homers through the first 90 games last season. He has six this season.

He padded the lead in the fifth inning, this time against Milwaukee lefthanded reliever Tom Gorzelanny. Brown waited for a 2-2 slider - belt-high, on the inner half - and slashed it through the hole for a two-run single.

"That was the game-winner right there," said Kyle Kendrick, who won despite a seven-run outing.

The bats compensated. Kendrick allowed five more first-inning runs - his ERA in the first is 10.50. Milwaukee tagged him for seven runs (that tied a career high) in 52/3 innings.

Lyle Overbay crushed a Kendrick cutter for a first-inning grand slam. The opposition is hitting .373 with a .424 on-base percentage and .639 slugging percentage against Kendrick in the first inning. That is a 1.063 OPS, or the equivalent of 1951 Stan Musial.

Kendrick's ERA this season is 4.46. In the sixth, he bequeathed the tying runners in scoring position for Justin De Fratus, who induced a weak groundout from slugger Aramis Ramirez. Jake Diekman struck out the two batters he faced.

Rookie Ken Giles pitched the eighth inning of a taut game for the second straight night. Giles survived two infield singles. His ERA dipped to a minuscule 0.71, and accolades for the hard-throwing righthander reach new highs every time he tugs on his flat-brimmed hat.



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