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Fielder, Braun supply the power as Brewers rout Astros

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09/05/2007 -

*Fielder, Braun supply the power as Brewers rout Astros* ========================================================

MILWAUKEE 14, HOUSTON 2 ----------------------- By Dave Cotey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun strengthened their cases for two of the National League's most prestigious awards and kept the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle of a pennant race.

Fielder, a league MVP candidate, and Braun, the front-runner for the league's top rookie honor, each belted three-run home runs in the Brewers' 14-2 rout of the Houston Astros at Miller Park on Wednesday.

Corey Hart also belted a three-run shot and rookie righthander Yovani Gallardo pitched seven scoreless innings for Milwaukee, which remained one half-game behind the Chicago Cubs (71-67) for the lead in the NL Central.

"A lot of guys are getting hot at the right time, so hopefully we can continue that trend," Braun said.

The Brewers struck early against Houston starter Matt Albers (4-6), who walked Rickie Weeks and Gabe Gross to lead off the bottom of the first. After Braun grounded into a fielder's choice, Fielder hit his league-leading 41st home run off center fielder Hunter Pence's glove.

"I like the way we're swinging the bats right now," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "We have our share of nice, young players and they are all chipping in."

In the bottom half of the second, Gallardo doubled with one out and Gross walked again - this time with two outs - before Braun hit his 28th home run, tying the franchise record for home runs by a rookie that was set by Fielder just last season.

"I'm not overly concerned with individual success, I'm just trying to help the team win," Braun said. "It's nice (the record) came in a win."

The Brewers added a four-run fourth inning when Hart homered with two on and two out and Geoff Jenkins followed with a solo shot.

"This game is a breath of fresh air," Hart said. "We scored a lot of runs, and didn't have to worry about too much. We're on the right track, and we're feeling pretty good about our chances."

Staked to the large early lead, Gallardo (7-4) cruised while winning for the third time in his last four tries. He scattered six hits and struck out five.

"Once we got that lead, I just tried to go out there and make them put the ball in play - throw strikes," Gallardo said. "The hitters did a good job. They put some runs up on the board early and kept on the attack."

Bill Hall added a pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning to increase the Brewers' major league-leading homer total to 192.

"We had a tough time throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the zone," Houston interim manager Cecil Cooper said. "Those guys don't miss when you leave the ball up. You can't make mistakes against those guys."

Milwaukee went 5-1 on its homestand after having lost six of seven.

"This was a nice homestand," Yost said. "From here on out, I'm going to manage every game like it's the last game of the season."

Albers lasted just three innings and allowed seven runs and six hits with three walks.

Reliever Felipe Paulino, making his big league debut, was not much better. He allowed five runs and six hits - including three home runs - in three frames.

The Astros fell to 4-5 since firing manager Phil Garner.


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