MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder says he decided to be stubborn this spring and changed his attitude for the better. He'd stop looking at his early season numbers, which have always been ugly, and has no plans to brood over his stat line.
The Brewers big slugger broke out for the first time this year against the Braves.Fielder had three hits, drove in his first three runs this season and scored two more to lead the Milwaukee Brewers over Atlanta 5-4 on Wednesday night."I've been feeling good the whole time. Unfortunately in baseball, it doesn't matter if you feel great or not. You can feel terrible and still get hits. That's just how it is," Fielder said. "[I'm] not letting results dictate how I'm going to approach it. Results aren't in my control, but I can control my approach and control my attitude."Fielder was hitless in 11 at-bats when he singled in two runs with the bases loaded in the first against Mike Minor by going the opposite way."It was nice to see him get those RBIs today. He's going the other way, that's nice to see," manager Ron Roenicke said. "There's a time to go the other way and that was the ideal time to do it."Fielder scored in the fourth on Yuniesky Betancourt's double, hit an RBI single off Minor (0-1) in the fifth and scored later that inning on a close play at the plate to give Milwaukee a 5-1 lead.Marco Estrada (1-0) earned his first major league victory even though he acknowledged he was nervous from the start. He was called up from the minors earlier in the day to fill in while Zack Greinke is on the disabled list.Estrada allowed a three-run homer to Jason Heyward in the sixth, but John Axford and the bullpen protected the one-run lead."It feels good. I wish I hadn't thrown that ball down the middle to Heyward, but other than that, it feels great and we won," said Estrada, who retired 11 of 12 at one point. "That's what matters."Milwaukee's bullpen had allowed nine runs in 13 innings this season, but the group of Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe and Axford looked much stronger this night with three hitless innings.Axford walked Heyward to start the ninth but picked up his first save after failing to convert his first opportunity in an opening day loss to the Reds. Axford struck out Alex Gonzalez, got Matt Young to ground out and retired Eric Hinske on a fly ball to give Milwaukee two straight wins after an 0-4 start."I was getting a little anxious out there, waiting for that opportunity to get off on a good foot this year," Axford said. "It was a slow start for us. We had to get the ball rolling ... these two games have been fantastic."Martin Prado led off the game with a double, giving the Braves their first base runner in scoring position in the series, and came home off Chipper Jones' double with one out. But Atlanta failed to tack on any more runs when Brian McCann singled and Jones was thrown out easily at the plate by center fielder Carlos Gomez."Chipper had a good jump but he made a hell of a throw. He really did," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You have to have people make plays and he did at that particular time."Fielder answered in Milwaukee's first at-bat. Minor walked the bases loaded to start the game and Fielder punched a single through the left side to give Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.In his next at-bat in the third, Fielder singled, reached second on a groundout by Casey McGehee and scored on Betancourt's double. In the fifth, he drove in Rickie Weeks with a one-out single that chased Minor, setting up consecutive close plays at the plate.First, Gomez was thrown out on McGehee's grounder. It was unclear on replays if McCann's tag touched Gomez's back as he tried to run over the catcher.Then, pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay singled and Fielder came home. McCann caught Heyward's throw from right field in plenty of time, but Fielder slid in to make it 5-1."He's fun to watch play," Roenicke said of Fielder. "He does so many things that a manager likes from players. He's fun for me."Estrada started the sixth by allowing consecutive singles. Heyward homered to right field, cutting Milwaukee's lead to 5-4, but Milwaukee's bullpen held on for the first time this season."We gave ourselves a chance," Heyward said. "It's all we can do. Had a couple of close calls at home plate tonight. One went our way, one didn't. That's the way it happens."
Brewers RHP Takashi Saito (left hamstring) was unavailable. ... Kotsay snapped an 0 for 26 streak against left-handers with a single in the eighth. ... Wednesday night was the 10th anniversary of Miller Park's opening. ... Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens (oblique) threw four innings in a simulated game. He's expected to start April 16 against the Mets. ... The Brewers will send three players to rehab assignments this week. C Jonathan Lucroy (broken right pinkie) will begin on Thursday at Double-A Huntsville, RHP LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder) will head to Single-A Brevard County and LHP Manny Parra (back) will pitch for Single-A Wisconsin on Saturday.
23,420 (55.9% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Home Plate - Bill Miller, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - Al Porter
How Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo threw a shutout against the Braves:
- Kept the ball on the ground: Gallardo let his defense work, recording 18 ground-ball outs, the highest of his career.
- Pitched to contact: Gallardo recorded only seven misses on 47 swings (14.9 pct), well below his 23.5 miss percentage last year. Gallardo finished with only two strikeouts, the third lowest of his career.
- Battled hitters' counts: Gallardo often fell behind Braves hitters, going to nine 2-0 and five 3-1 counts. But he was able to make good pitches when he was behind, retiring 10 of 11 hitters, eight of which came on the ground.