MILWAUKEE (AP) — This was the kind of night Owen Miller dreamed of having when he learned he'd be coming home to play for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Miller went 3 for 4 with a homer and a double to back up Corbin Burnes' six shutout innings as the Brewers defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Friday night. Miller's homer was his first since the Brewers acquired the Wisconsin native from the Cleveland Guardians last December.
“I'll have to go back and listen to (Brewers broadcaster Bob) Uecker on the radio on that one” said Miller, who was born in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon and played at Ozaukee High School in Fredonia, Wisconsin. “I know my grandma, she'd be proud of that one. She'd always have Uecker on when I was little.”
Miller homered in the third inning, doubled in the fifth and singled and scored in the seventh for his fifth career three-hit game. Three of those games have come against the Royals.
Milwaukee's victory, coupled with the Pittsburgh Pirates' 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, enabled the Brewers to regain a half-game lead in the NL Central. The Brewers have won just three of their last 11 games, but the Pirates have lost 10 of 11.
“We don't want to watch the standings this early in the year,” Burnes said. “I think if we go out and play the baseball we can, all that will take care of itself. Obviously, we haven't played our best baseball probably the last two weeks. There's a lot more in there that we can do better, really all across the board. I think it's going to come down to us playing the best baseball we can and not worrying about what the rest of the league's doing or where the standings are at.”
Burnes (4-2) settled down after some early control issues. He struck out seven and allowed only two hits while throwing a season-high 104 pitches.
“I think the fifth and sixth innings were probably my best innings as far as getting ahead and attacking the zone,” Burnes said. “I've just got to do a better job from the get-go. There's no reason why I shouldn't throw six innings. To do it with 100-plus pitches is a little ridiculous.”
Burnes' four walks were one off his career high, but the Royals failed to capitalize.
“That's what good pitchers do," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “They find a way. I'm sure he would say that's probably not his best night, best command or whatever, but he found a way to execute.”
Kansas City got just three hits all night and scored its only run on Freddy Fermin’s two-out homer in the seventh off Joel Payamps. The Royals were seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Brewers took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish by scoring an unearned run off Josh Taylor (0-1) in the first inning. Willy Adames drew a two-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored on Christian Yelich’s infield single.
Taylor made his second career start out of 131 appearances and lasted one inning in what was a designed bullpen game for the Royals. Max Castillo replaced Taylor and allowed two runs, three walks and six hits in 4 1/3 innings while throwing 80 pitches.
Miller extended the lead to 2-0 when he led off the third by ripping an 0-2 slider from Castillo into the left-field seats. The 404-foot drive was Miller’s first homer of the season.
C Salvador Perez was scratched from the Royals’ starting lineup Friday due to what Quatraro described as “a little bit of blurry vision.” The Royals’ original lineup had Perez leading off as the designated hitter.
Quatraro said Perez already had received treatment from a specialist. “It’s nothing long-term or serious,” Quatraro said.
RHP Zack Greinke (1-4, 5.18 ERA) pitches for the Royals and RHP Adrian Houser (0-0, 3.86) starts for the Brewers on Saturday night.
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