The fireworks erupted early, but they were enough.
The Atlanta Braves scored four runs in the first two innings against Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, and while the bats were quieter for the rest of the evening, the early onslaught was enough to propel the Braves to a 5-3 victory in Monday's series opener.
In fairness to the Brewers, the initial explosion was nearly even on both sides. Atlanta's Kelly Johnson deposited an offering from Lohse over the right field wall to give the Braves a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but in no time, Milwaukee responded, as Gerardo Parra led off the game with a solo blast against Atlanta starter Matt Wisler.
The second inning was kinder to the Braves, though, as an RBI double from Nick Markakis (plating Eury Perez) and an RBI single from Kelly Johnson (plating Cameron Maybin) were enough to give the Braves a 4-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
In fact, Atlanta took virtual batting practice against Lohse to the point where it was surprising that he didn't allow more runs. The veteran right-hander was battered for 11 hits and a walk in just 5 innings of work, but thanks to some (un)timely hitting on the side of the Braves, Milwaukee was able to stay within striking distance.
The Brewers would claw back into the action with one run each in the fifth and six innings against Wisler, but fortunately for the visiting team, that was all that the home squad could put together. Wisler exited after 5.2 innings having allowed 3 runs on 7 hits while striking out 6, but even an unspectacular performance from the starter couldn't derail what was a winning effort.
David Aardsma, who relieved Wisler with two outs in the sixth, collected arguably the biggest out of the game when he retired Jean Segura, and the Brewers never seriously threatened again. The rest of Atlanta's bullpen, featuring Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli, did quality work in keeping Milwaukee under wraps, and when the dust settled, it was a 5-3 victory for the Braves in the opener.
On the offensive side, Monday night's showing was an improvement for the Braves after what was an abysmal performance on Sunday afternoon. A.J. Pierzynski was the star of the night, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, and he was joined by Kelly Johnson (2-4, HR, 3 RBI), Cameron Maybin (2-4, 2 runs), Nick Markakis (2-5, 2 doubles) and Juan Uribe (2-5). All told, Atlanta put together a 15-hit performance against Milwaukee's previously hot pitching staff, and that is encouraging with regard to the rest of the series.
Matt Wisler wasn't perfect on this night, but in a refreshing change, the Atlanta Braves were able to win a game in which the starting pitcher wasn't dominant. On to the next.