ST. LOUIS -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun took the lead in the National League batting title race on Sunday, when a three-hit game boosted his average past Jose Reyes' .333, to .335. Braun's hitting coach doesn't worry one bit that Braun's bid will become a distraction.Quite the opposite. "Certain people are motivated by stuff like that, and I think he's one of them," Dale Sveum said. "I don't think it hurts. Sometimes it can hurt guys, but those kinds of achievements motivate Brauny. Just like last year." Sveum referred to late last July, when Braun's batting average fell below .275 for the first time on a non-April date in more than three years. He responded by batting .424 in August and .308 in September to finish with a .304 average. Or, Sveum said, look at 2009, when Braun needed a tremendous surge over the final two and a half weeks to finish as the NL leader in hits with 203. He batted .398 over his final 19 games, and topped 200 hits on the next-to-last day of the season. "He can say, 'OK, I need to get going,'" Sveum said. "He's one of those guys where, I don't think it bothers him, it motivates him more." Another strong finish could help Braun gain some separation in a fascinating bid for the NL MVP Award. Reyes has dropped out of the discussion because of his lingering hamstring injury, leaving Braun, teammate Prince Fielder and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp as the consensus top three. Kemp is having a sensational season for a losing team, and, on pure numbers, may be having the best year. "Kemp's numbers are ridiculous, but so are Braun's and Fielder's," Sveum said. "You know how it happens with teams that win; they seem to have the MVP on their team. That's the way the voting goes." Sveum hopes it goes that way again.
Brewers give Green another start at third
ST. LOUIS -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke promised Sunday that when the matchups are right in September, he will play rookie Taylor Green at third base. The matchup was right again on Monday.Green got the nod for the second time in three games over resident third baseman Casey McGehee, who was 0-for-10 lifetime against St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook. Green entered the day off to a 5-for-8 start to his Major League career, and Roenicke indicated the club is open minded about including the 24-year-old, who was promoted to the Majors on Aug. 27, on a potential postseason roster. But that does not necessarily mean he is poised to supplant McGehee, who has enjoyed a solid second half (.272 average, .789 OPS). McGehee has good numbers against the Cardinals' other two pitchers in the series and is expected to start Wednesday and Thursday. Green's solid start comes after he batted .336 with 22 home runs and 88 RBIs in 120 games with Triple-A Nashville, a performance that will earn him consideration for the Brewers' Minor League player of the year honor. Green won the award in 2007, then endured two down years marred by a wrist injury. Roenicke sat down with McGehee on Monday to explain the club's thinking. "Hey, he's not happy. I don't really want him to be," Roenicke said. He added: "If [Green] wasn't playing this well, I wouldn't do it."
Brewers recall reliever Dillard from Nashville
ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers made right-handed reliever Tim Dillard their only additional callup after Triple-A Nashville won its season finale on Monday."More is not always necessarily good," manager Ron Roenicke explained. "It disrupts a lot of things. All of a sudden you've got too many groups in [batting practice], you shorten the groups. When you're bringing guys up to play them, to get a look at them, it's different." Dillard's return had been forecast since he was optioned back to the Minors on Aug. 26 to make room for third-base prospect Taylor Green, a bat the Brewers wanted in the Majors to balance the roster, and to make Green postseason-eligible. By rule, Dillard had to spend 10 days with Nashville before he was eligible to return. In 21 relief appearances with Milwaukee earlier this year, the side-arming Dillard has a 4.81 ERA and has held right-handers to a .196 average. For now, the Brewers opted not to promote any additional position players from a pool of candidates that included left-handed hitter Mat Gamel and middle infielder Eric Farris. "There's a couple of other guys you could look at and say they probably deserve to come up; Gamel and [Caleb] Gindl both had great years," Roenicke said. "Somewhere in there, we thought about what we needed on the bench, [but] they're left-handed and we're really versatile left-handed." The team also passed on a promotion for one of their Triple-A pitching prospects, Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers, who finished the season very strong after promotions from Double-A Huntsville. Peralta has probably moved into No. 1 prospect status for Milwaukee, but Fiers was particularly impressive of late. He worked five innings in Monday's finale without allowing an earned run, running to 19 innings his season-ending scoreless streak. In his 10 Nashville starts, Fiers was 8-0 with a 1.11 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. He also made two relief appearances for the Sounds. Dillard will be in uniform beginning Tuesday night, when the Brewers and Cardinals continue their three-game series.
Brewers second baseman Jerry Hairston exited Monday's game against the Cardinals in the fourth inning because of neck soreness, a team spokesperson said. He's considered day to day. Hairston has given the Brewers a big boost since his July 30 trade from the Nationals, batting .281 with Milwaukee entering Monday's start, including .333 over his last 19 games. He has mostly served as a full-in for injured All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks.
"He's OK," manager Ron Roenicke said after the team's 4-1 win. "He's had a neck and shoulder issue, and he had it before the game and we weren't sure we were going to start him or not. He said he was fine to go, but I think a couple of swings into it, it didn't feel real good."
The Phillies announced their probable starters for a four-game series at Miller Park beginning Thursday, and, as expected, it's a gauntlet. Cole Hamels will pitch the opener, followed by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and then rookie Vance Worley. Lest you think the Yovani Gallardo-Worley matchup will be a breeze for the Brewers in Sunday's series finale, consider that Worley is 10-1 with a 2.85 ERA entering his Tuesday matchup against the Braves. The records kept falling at Class A Brevard County on Sunday, when infield prospect Scooter Gennett tied the franchise record with his 167th hit. He led the Florida State League in hits, the first Brevard County player to do so since current Brewers scout Drew Anderson in 2005. Gennett, ranked by MLB.com as the No.4 prospect in the Brewers' system, finished the year with an even .300 batting average. The day before, Manatees first baseman Hunter Morris set the club's single-season home run record by belting No. 19. That's a big number in a league dominated by pitching.