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Ryan Braun gets the most valuable hit against Dodgers

Brewers win, 2-1, thanks to Braun's first-inning homer. Matt Kemp is left stranded on third at the end of his first game back.

May 29, 2012

While Matt Kemp was serenaded with chants of "M-V-P!" in his return from the 15-day disabled list, the player who actually won that award last season was subjected to constant boos and taunts by the crowd at Dodger Stadium.

Ryan Braun, who grew up in nearby Granada Hills, was booed when he was introduced as part of the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup. He was booed every time he stepped into the batter's box. He was booed when he stole a base. When he flipped a foul ball into the stands, a fan threw it back onto the field.

But Braun's opposite-field, two-run home run in the first inning off Nathan Eovaldi was the difference Tuesday night, giving the Brewers at 2-1 victory over the Dodgers.

Braun was two for three with a walk. Kemp was one for four with a double.

"I wouldn't say it was something I wasn't anticipating," Braun said of the crowd reaction. "It's not the way I would choose for it to be, but it certainly makes it enjoyable as a competitor."

Braun not only edged out Kemp for the National League most-valuable-player award last season, he later tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Had his 50-game suspension not been overturned on a technicality, he would have remained ineligible to play until the series finale Thursday.

Braun said in spring training that he felt it was unfortunate fans would judge him "without knowing what actually happened." But Braun has steadfastly refused to explain the positive test.

Asked if he might reconsider that position, Braun replied, "I'm not even going there at all."

At that point, the team's director of media relations ended the postgame question-and-answer session.

"Thanks, guys," Mike Vassallo said.

Kemp, who calls Braun a friend, also had no intention of revisiting the controversy. Asked what he thought of how Braun was booed, Kemp said, "Next question."

Earlier in the day, Kemp defended Braun by pointing to his statistics this season. Braun is now hitting .315 with 14 home runs and 36 runs batted in.

"His numbers are the same as they were last year," Kemp said. "I don't see a change. Whatever happened — if it did happen or didn't happen — he's still the same player that he was last year and he continues to have a great season."

Kemp was otherwise in high spirits.

"I felt comfortable," Kemp said. "I had some pretty good at-bats. I had no complaints other than that we lost."

He said he woke up feeling as if it was opening day.

The two weeks he was sidelined, he said, "felt like a month."

Mike Fiers, who made his first major league start, struck out Kemp on three pitches in his first at-bat. Kemp hit a ball to the warning track in the fourth inning and grounded out to the catcher in the sixth.

Kemp's groundout was immediately followed by a run-scoring double by Andre Ethier that cut the deficit to 2-1 and increased Ethier's league-leading RBI total to 43.

Kemp led off the ninth inning with the double to left-center. Ethier was struck by a 97-mph fastball from Brewers closer John Axford. But with two on and no outs, Jerry Hairston Jr. couldn't get a sacrifice bunt down, then hit into a double play. James Loney grounded out to short with Kemp on third to end the game.

Eovaldi, who was called up from double A to replace the injured Ted Lilly in the Dodgers' rotation, held the Brewers to two runs and four hits over seven innings but absorbed the loss.

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