SAN DIEGO (AP) - Ryan Braun hit three home runs in a game for the first time in his career, connecting in consecutive at-bats against the Padres at spacious Petco Park on Monday night.
The Milwaukee Brewers' slugger hit a solo homer into the sand area beyond the right-center fence _ one of the deepest parts of Petco Park _ in the fourth inning and a two-run shot onto the balcony on the fourth level of the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner in the fifth. Both were off rookie starter Joe Wieland.
The reigning NL MVP then homered to left field off Ernesto Frieri in the seventh, tying the team record for homers in a game.
Braun came close to equaling the major league record of four homers in a game, too. He hit a two-run triple in the ninth inning that short-hopped the fence in right-center.
Braun is the first player with a three-homer game at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. He became the second major leaguer to hit three home runs in a game this season, joining Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees.
Granderson accomplished the feat April 19 against Minnesota.
Braun helped power the Brewers to the NL championship series last season and won the league's MVP award. But his achievements came under suspicion when ESPN reported that he failed a drug test with a high testosterone level.
Braun went on to win his appeal and avoid a 50-game suspension. Then he made his case to fans upon his arrival in spring training, saying that chain of custody issues with his urine sample cast doubt on the validity of the test.
That didn't end the controversy; baseball officials were unhappy with the arbitrator's decision, and a urine sample collector issued a statement saying he followed proper protocols and that there was no evidence of tampering. Braun also has hinted that there's more to the story than he's letting on, refusing to share those details.
He began the night batting .263 with four homers and 11 RBIs.
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