MILWAUKEE — Put Jonathan Lucroy anywhere in the lineup this season, and he’s hit the ball well.
Put Barry Zito in Miller Park, and he struggles.
Aramis Ramirez hit a three-run double in a six-run first inning, Lucroy added a two-run homer in the second and the Milwaukee Brewers rocked Barry Zito again at Miller Park in an 8-5 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
Lucroy has batted everywhere but first, third and ninth in the batting order this year, settling in the fifth spot on Wednesday. He homered in the second inning and doubled in the fourth. He’s 6-for-15 in the No. 5 hole.
“He’s so hot that he doesn’t care where he is,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
Emerging as one of the top hitting catchers in the NL, Lucroy is batting .349 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 40 games.
“He likes everywhere I put him,” Roenicke said. “I hope I don’t mess him up by putting him in too many different spots.”
Zito (3-2) allowed his first six batters to reach as Milwaukee batted around in a 40-pitch first inning. He wound up giving up eight runs — four earned — five hits and four walks in three innings. Zito dropped to 0-4 with a 7.67 ERA in eight starts at Miller Park and his ERA this year rose from 3.00 to 3.53.
“It’s been weird at this yard,” Zito said. “I haven’t had many games where I felt like I was on my game.”
Jose Veras (3-1) struck out three over two hitless innings in relief of Marco Estrada, who left after injuring his right hip while running out a first-inning double. John Axford pitched the ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
Veras, Francisco Rodriguez and Axford combined for four scoreless innings.
Zito walked Corey Hart leading off the bottom of the first, then threw high to first for an error on Norichika Aoki’s sacrifice. Ramirez drove Zito’s 14th pitch of the game to the left-center field wall for a 3-0 lead.
Lucroy reached when shortstop Brandon Crawford booted a hard grounder for San Francisco’s major league-leading 46th error, and a walk to Weeks reloaded the bases.
After Carlos Gomez struck out, Cesar Izturis hit a run-scoring groundout. Estrada, who had been 0 for 8 at the plate this season, lined the ball down the left-field line for a two-run double and his first RBIs in 22 at-bats over five major league seasons. He jogged gingerly to second and, after meeting with trainers and Roenicke, slowly walked off the field with an injury to his right hip flexor or quad.
The team said Estrada will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
“I still don’t know what happened or why,” he said. “I felt a pop in my quad. I hope it’s nothing serious.”
After Estrada was removed from the game, Hart fouled out.
Aoki singled starting the second and scored with two outs on Lucroy’s fifth home run of the year.
Lucroy also doubled, and is batting .417 (30-for-72) with three home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 20 games.
“I’m just trying to have good at bats and hit the ball hard,” he said. “I’m not a big guy. I’m not going to hit a lot of home runs.”
Hector Sanchez had a three-run double in the third inning for San Francisco, which closed in the fourth when Brandon Crawford hit an RBI single and scored on Melky Cabrera’s double. With runners on second and third, and two outs, Kameron Loe struck out Sanchez.
NOTES: The Brewers claimed INF Cody Ransom off waivers and optioned INF Edwin Maysonet to Triple-A Nashville. … Joaquin Arias had three singles for the Giants. … Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval took 25 swings off a tee in Arizona on Wednesday and wrote on Twitter that he felt “no pain at all.” Sandoval has been on the DL since May 3 with a fracture to his left hamate bone. … Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash and Roenicke met before the game to discuss the roster. The team has struggled, but Roenicke said it was unlikely there will be a major shakeup soon. … Giants C Buster Posey was out of the starting lineup for a day of rest, but pinch hit in the eighth and walked.