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Morgan stars as Brewers beat Braves 4-2

Nyjer Morgan jarred the ball loose in a collision at home to give Milwaukee the lead in the second inning Thursday, and the Brewers went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 for their third straight win.

Ryan Braun hit his third home run of the season for the Brewers, who have recovered nicely from a four-game losing streak to start the year. Milwaukee rallied to take three of four games from the Braves after losing Monday's home opener at Miller Park.

Martin Prado had a two-run single for Atlanta, which will hold its home opener Friday night after playing its first seven games on the road.

Brewers closer John Axford pitched a scoreless ninth to earn saves in back-to-back games after a shaky start to the season.

Atlanta couldn't muster much run support for starter Tommy Hanson (0-2), who gave up three runs, seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings. The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Alex Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning.

Milwaukee got a better outing the second time around from new starter Shaun Marcum (1-1), who gave up two runs, five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings.

Marcum, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Toronto, wasn't particularly sharp in his first outing as a Brewer, giving up four runs — three of which were earned — and five walks while going only 4 2-3 innings and taking the loss in Cincinnati on Saturday.

With the game tied at 2, Morgan almost single-handedly put the Brewers back ahead.

With one out in the second, Morgan doubled, stole third — getting such a good jump that there wasn't a throw — and then took off for home on a grounder by George Kottaras. Morgan barreled into catcher Brian McCann, who lost the ball, and Morgan doubled back to step on home plate before McCann got the ball back. The run gave Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.

It was the latest impressive moment as a Brewer for Morgan, acquired in a trade with Washington just before the start of the season. He came into Thursday's game batting .556, and also made an impressive diving catch in the sixth.

Morgan was filling in for injured right fielder Corey Hart. And when Hart returns from a left oblique strain, Morgan's strong play may challenge incumbent starting center fielder Carlos Gomez, who is struggling at the plate — although Gomez did get a pair of bunt hits Thursday.

Gomez bunted for a single with one out in the first before Braun hit a 1-1 pitch from Hanson over the left-field wall, giving Milwaukee a 2-0 lead. The Braves came back to tie on a two-run single by Prado, before Morgan's play put Milwaukee back ahead.

Prince Fielder came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh and hit a soft grounder, but the throw pulled McCann off home plate and Rickie Weeks scored, giving the Brewers a 4-2 lead.

Notes: Brewers RHP Zack Greinke made another step toward returning Thursday, throwing a bullpen session before the game. The Brewers' major offseason acquisition cracked a rib playing basketball in the offseason. ... Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez rested 3B Chipper Jones, but he appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. ... Despite tightness in his hamstring, Brewers RHP Takashi Saito is not expected to go on the DL. ... Brewers LHP Dan Merklinger cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Double-A Huntsville.