Braun hits 2 HRs to lead Brewers to 8-4 win over Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates' Matt Joyce rounds third after hitting a three-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The breeze blowing in from center field did not bother Ryan Braun.

Bruan hit two long two-run home runs and Jimmy Nelson took a shutout into the seventh inning as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4 on Friday night.

Braun had a 460-foot shot off the batter’s eye in center field off Kyle Lobstein in the sixth to put the Brewers ahead 5-0. After the Pirates drew within a run, Braun hit a 415-foot shot to dead center in the eighth off Neftali Feliz for his third of the season to make it 7-4.

“Maybe I got lucky and the wind stopped blowing when I was up to bat,” Braun said with a smile before adding, “it was warmer here than it usually is at that time of the year, so I think that probably helped.”

It was Braun’s 23rd career multi-homer game.

Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer, his first, to chase Nelson (2-1) with none out in the seventh. The Pirates cut the gap to 5-4 later in the inning on back-to-back doubles by David Freese and Starling Marte with two outs.

“It was good to get those tack-on runs,” Braun said. “The Pirates are one of the best teams in baseball and they are especially tough at home. You always want to get as many runs as you can against them.”

Jeff Locke (0-1) gave up three runs, five hits and walked seven in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four.

“Our guys did a good job of making him work, made him have some tough innings,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

The Brewers, who added a run in the ninth inning when Kirk Nieuwenhuis drew a bases-loaded walk from AJ Schlugel, evened their record at 5-5 while sending the Pirates (5-6) to their fourth straight loss.

Braun and Jonathan Villar, who sat out the two previous games with a sore left ankle, each had three of the Brewers’ 11 hits. Chris Carter and Aaron Hill added two hits apiece.

Nelson won his second straight start and improved his career record to 5-2 against the Pirates. He gave up three runs — two earned — and four hits while walking four and striking out one.

“My responsibility is to provide innings and we shouldn’t have had to use the bullpen tonight but I ran my pitch count up with the walks,” Nelson said. “I’m not happy about but it’s awesome that we won.”

Marte had three hits for the Pirates and also leaped above the top of the left-field fence to rob Carter of a potential home run in the seventh inning.

Locke walked the leadoff batter in each of the first four innings and the Brewers took advantage by scoring single runs in the second, third and fourth to move in front 3-0.

The first run scored on a double play grounder in the second inning then Chris Carter drew a bases-loaded walk in the third and Domingo Santana hit an RBI single in the fourth.

“There are games where it’s just frustrating to be a part of, especially when you’re the one that’s causing it,” Locke said. “It’s a tough game to watch wherever you are, especially when you’re out on the mound. The name of the game with walks is they always come down to haunt you.”