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MIL@CHC: Braun starts the scoring with a two-run shot

In 2008, a young Brewers squad was swept by the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Following the final loss, the player who now is the face of the franchise, a 24-year-old Ryan Braun, raised eyebrows when he declared the building Brewers "didn't expect to win" against the then-defending champions.

Three years later, Braun said his comments are irrelevant as Milwaukee travels to Boston to begin a three-game Interleague series on Friday at Fenway Park.

"That's so long ago, it's not something I'm even talking about," Braun said at Wrigley Field on Thursday. "That feels like a long time ago."

It has, indeed, been a long time. Since then, the Brewers have finally added a bolstered rotation to their homegrown position players and now sit atop the National League Central. The Red Sox, after starting the season 0-6, now boast an American League-best 41-27 record. Boston completed its nine-game road trip with a 8-1 record and took two of three games from Tampa Bay.

"It should be a good weekend of baseball. It should be fun," said Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron, who played with Milwaukee from 2008-09. "They're in first place, too. They're going to be ready. They love the lights. They love that type of atmosphere. They play us and New York, so they're going to get it full-fledged."

Braun, who Cameron dubbed "the best left fielder in the game," said playing against Boston will be a test. But it won't be anything he and his teammates haven't already experienced this season.

"We've played a lot of good teams," Braun said, "and we don't need the national attention. It's not going to affect the way we prepare, the way we compete, the way we think about ourselves. It's just another series against a good team. It will definitely be challenging."

Although the Brewers were swept in that three-game series, there were some good memories. After all, Milwaukee's young players played at Fenway Park. Outfielder Corey Hart said he didn't look at the upcoming series as a chance to show how Milwaukee has progressed in the past few years. Instead, he looked at it as another opportunity to play in one of the most historic parks in the country.

"I remember enjoying the experience there," Hart said. "We were still coming up then, and a lot of the same guys are still here. Obviously we want to go there and play better, but I don't think it's that big a factor. We just want to go there and play well."

What sticks out most to Cameron about the matchup this time around is something the Brewers didn't have when he was in Milwaukee -- depth in the starting rotation.

"The only thing we didn't have at the time were the arms," Cameron said. "As far as doing things offensively, it reminds me of a team like this, but National League style, because everyone runs over there."

Taking the mound for Milwaukee is a familiar opponent for Red Sox batters, right-hander Shaun Marcum (7-2, 2.68 ERA), who came to Milwaukee this offseason after spending four-plus seasons with Toronto. Marcum is 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 16 games (11 starts) against the Red Sox, including a 3.52 ERA at Fenway Park.

John Lackey (4-5, 7.41 ERA) gets the start for Boston as the right-hander looks to remain unbeaten since returning from the 15-day disabled list. In two starts since his return, Lackey is 2-0 and is coming off an eight strikeout performance against the Blue Jays in his last outing.

Brewers: Finding a DH
• As the Brewers pondered their designated hitter possibilities for this weekend's series in Boston, a callup of Triple-A prospect Mat Gamel was discussed. Instead, Milwaukee decided to use a hitter already on its roster. Manager Ron Roenicke has already talked with first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks about DHing for a day and might ask Braun to do the same. Mark Kotsay also could play first base or left field.

"Our team is not really built for American League parks, so it's too bad we drew the Red Sox in Boston," Kotsay said. "If we played in Milwaukee, we could get [David Ortiz] out of their lineup."

• The Brewers begin a tough 15-game stretch Friday, during which they'll face the Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Yankees and Twins again.

"It's a rough schedule, but the focus has really been on trying to play good baseball," Roenicke said. "We know we've got the tough stretch, but we feel like if we're playing this good baseball, we're going to be fine."

Red Sox: Big numbers for Big Papi
• It's a good thing for the Red Sox that this series is at Fenway Park and not Miller Park, or they'd be without one of their top hitters. David Ortiz entered Thursday sixth in batting average (.317), fourth in homers (17), second in OPS (.997) and second in slugging percentage (.609).

"I don't know, I'm just playing the game, having fun," Ortiz said. "I feel like I want to kick [butt] every day."

• After Thursday's game against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, the Red Sox have now won each of their last 11 games in which the opposing starter was a lefty. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Major League team to win 10 straight games against a southpaw starter was Houston, from Aug. 17-Sept 19, 2010.

Worth noting
• The start date for Saturday's game has been moved from 1:10 p.m. ET to 7:10 p.m. to accommodate the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup championship parade, which begins at 11 a.m.

• The Red Sox lead the Majors with a 97-50 record in Interleague Play since 2003.

• Boston improved to 11-2 in the month of June, which ties as many wins as they compiled during April.

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