Sounds' Braun blasts three homers

Brewers' top prospect powers Nashville past New Orleans

(Morry Gash/AP )

April 14, 2007 8:29 PM ET

Ryan Braun says he's even now. Chan Ho Park probably has a different opinion.

Braun, the top offensive prospect of the Milwaukee Brewers, homered in his first three at-bats -- all against Park -- and drove in five runs Saturday night as the Nashville Sounds coasted past the New Orleans Zephyrs, 14-1.

"I faced him last time and don't think I hit a ball out of the infield," Braun said, referring to a matchup against Park in the first series of the season. "So we're even now."

Braun staked pitching phenom Yovani Gallardo to a lead in the first inning, smacking a 2-1 changeup over the wall in left-center field. The next four batters singled, with Brad Nelson driving in two runs to give Nashville a 4-0 lead.

Braun smoked a 1-0 cutter over the center-field wall leading off the third. J.D. Closser followed with a double and scored on Andy Abad's single to make it 6-0. Park tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Braun in the fourth and watched it sail over the fence in right-center field for an 8-0 cushion.

Braun, who went 3-for-5 with four runs scored, became the fifth Nashville player to hit three homers in a game. He joined an elite group that includes former Major Leaguers Craig Wilson, Steve Balboni, Dan Pasqua and Darnell Coles.

"I take pride in those at-bats," Braun said of facing a pitcher like Park, who has been successful in the Major Leagues. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball well lately. I've been hitting the ball hard but right at people. I centered the ball and a few went over the fence."

With Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino manning third base in Milwaukee, it could be a matter of time before Braun gets his shot at a big-league job. The Brewers sent Braun to Triple-A with instructions to work on his defense but haven't provided a timetable for when he might get called up.

"I try not to pay attention to it at all," Braun said. "I watch SportsCenter and root for them. I hope I dictate my own success and future. If I handle my business, I feel I'll be given that opportunity. Hopefully, I'll get that opportunity sooner rather than later. I'm ready. I can't wait. I'm ready and waiting."

Braun wasn't the only hitting star in a game in which the Sounds pounded out 16 hits. Abad was 4-for-5 with three RBIs, while Vinny Rottino hit a two-run homer during a six-run sixth.

Gallardo (1-1) equaled his career high with 12 strikeouts over six scoreless innings. He yielded three hits and two walks and did not allow a runner past second base.

Alec Zumwalt came on to start the seventh and gave up one run on three hits to earn his first save. He surrendered a solo homer to Andy Tracy in the ninth, struck out four and didn't walk a batter.

Park (1-1) was charged with eight runs on 10 hits over four innings as his ERA climbed to 7.20.

Tim Leonard is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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