PHOENIX (AP) — Ryan Braun hit his second homer of the spring and added a single to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Wednesday.
Braun raised his batting average from .800 to .875 with the hits and now has seven hits in his first eight Cactus League at-bats. He has also walked twice, giving him a .900 on-base percentage.
"I pride myself on coming to spring training in good shape and ready to compete," Braun said. "But I really don't remember spring trainings to be honest with you. I don't remember ever coming in completely lost, but you don't want to be too locked in too early.
"You hope for a gradual progression and to peak right before the season starts."
Braun said the right thumb injury, which hampered him before he missed the final 65 games due to a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal, as not been an issue. He has discarded any idea of any padding and is going without any protection for the thumb.
"Anything that inhibits my typical swing, I strongly dislike," Braun said. "We tried a lot of different things last year and I never got comfortable with any of them. I decided I'm not going to do anything this year and hope for the best."
Braun lined a single to right center in the first before taking an 0-2 change-up from Oakland starter Jarrod Parker down the left-field line. The leading candidate to start on Opening Day, Parker allowed only two hits in 3 1/3 innings — both to Braun. Both of Braun's home runs this spring have come against the A's.
"Yeah, I played with fire, I told him that when I saw him," said Parker, who asked Braun what pitch he was looking for. "Wrong location. I wanted it to be away and it ran back over the plate. If it's away, it's probably swung through or fouled off.
"He was looking to battle at that point and he barreled it up."
Mitch Haniger and Martin Maldonado added two RBI each for the Brewers.
Michael Taylor had a home run and a double, scoring both runs for the A's. He now has five hits in the last two days, snapping out of an 0-for-10 slump. He barely missed a second home run in the third, sending Braun to the wall in right.
"Taylor really looks relaxed the last couple of games and swinging much better than we've seen him," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It's good to see. He's putting together a lot of good at-bats."
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