Audio: Woodward plates six
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It's taken 14 years and more than 1,200 games, but Chris Woodward finally took his turn as a slugger on Sunday.
Woodward went 4-for-5, hit his second career grand slam and drove in a career-high six runs to power the Nashville Sounds past the Fresno Grizzlies, 15-9, at Chukchansi Park.
"My hitting coach, [Harry Spilman], made an adjustment with my swing before the game and I didn't really expect it to work," Woodward laughed. "It worked pretty much immediately, I knew right away."
The Major League veteran lined an RBI single in the second inning, singled again in the fifth, slugged a grand slam -- his second homer of the season -- in the sixth and capped his night with another run-scoring base hit in the eighth.
"I was just happy to put us in the lead," Woodward said of the slam. "It was kind of a crazy game. We've been struggling a bit, so its nice to get off the schneid."
It was his first grand slam since he hit one for Toronto off Baltimore's Eddy Rodriguez on Aug. 20, 2004 at Camden Yards. Woodward remembered the blast well.
"I've been feeling pretty good lately, but the hits haven't come," said Woodward, who's tweaked swing made all the difference. "Just getting my top hand through the swing, I was just missing a lot of balls, hitting high line drives right at them. I felt like I was getting good swings and we kind of worked on that in the cage."
The 32-year-old utilityman was in a 2-for-19 funk and batted .167 (4-for-32) in his previous 10 games. But his big night raised his average 20 points to .245.
"It just seemed like the pitchers left balls out over the middle all game," he said. "I was just looking to react."
It was a sorely needed outburst for Woodward, who is battling for a return to the Majors with the contending Brewers. In his 14th professional season, he finds himself back in the Minors for the first time since a brief rehab stint in 2004. His last lengthy Minor League assignment came in 2001, when he batted .306 in 51 games for Triple-A Syracuse.
"This is the first time I've played every day in five years, so it's definitely an adjustment, getting used to playing every day," he said. "I wasn't quite sure what to expect, how my body would react, but it's nice here, it's a good group of guys."
Woodward snapped a 9-9 tie in the sixth with his two-out slam off Erick Threets. His RBI single two innings later scored Laynce Nix, moments before J.R. Hopf raced home on an error.
The grand slam was the 30th career Minor League homer for Woodward, who has spent parts of 14 seasons with seven Minor League teams and three big league clubs.
Not known for his power, he has had his share of memorable home run moments. He slugged a career-high 13 homers, including three on one night, in 90 games for the Blue Jays in 2002.
It's been a busy year for Woodward, who signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees in February but was released in late March. He signed with the Phillies two days later and appeared in 19 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley before being dropped on May 2. Milwaukee gave him a deal on May 31 and assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, where he's driven in 23 runs in 48 games.
Woodward's grand slam was one of six homers in Sunday's game. Fresno's Travis Ishikawa went deep twice and drove in five runs, although the Grizzlies were held scoreless after the fourth.
Fellow big league veterans Joe Dillon and Laynce Nix homered and Hopf added his second Triple-A blast in the sixth for the Sounds, who recorded a season-high 15 runs on 14 hits.
Woodward fell one RBI short of the franchise record, last set by Drew Denson on May 13, 1993 at Buffalo.
Richie Gardner made his 17th start and was pounded for nine runs -- eight earned -- on 10 hits over four innings for last-place Nashville (45-70). Erasmo Ramirez (2-4) hurled three innings of hitless relief for the win.
Major League vet Victor Santos was charged with nine runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings for Fresno (55-60). Threets (1-5) took the loss after giving up four runs in two frames.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.