MILWAUKEE — Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich spent an hour hitting baseballs with hitting coach Andy Haines prior to Monday night’s game.
The extra batting practice certainly paid off.
Yelich hit three home runs, including a pair of three-run shots, and drove in a career-high seven runs to power the Brewers past the St. Louis Cardinals 10-7 at Miller Park.
The pregame session followed a pair of hitless games in Los Angeles over the weekend that snapped Yelich’s on-base streak at 27 games dating to last season. He hadn’t gone consecutive regular-season games without a hit since last August.
So Yelich and Haines worked out the kinks.
“I didn’t feel locked in,” Yelich said before the game. “I felt like I was still searching for things, for feelings. It’s a continuous battle throughout the year. There would be stretches, an at-bat or two, when I would feel good.
“It’s all about feel. I feel like I haven’t played good at all this year. Even in the beginning, I guess, I didn’t feel good. I was trying to find that feeling.”
Yelich, the reigning NL MVP, hit his first three-run homer to cap a six-run second inning. After St. Louis tied it with three runs in the sixth, Yelich answered in the bottom half with a towering three-run blast to right off Mike Mayers (0-1).
Yelich capped off his night with his eighth homer this season, going deep to lead off the eighth. He also lined out in the first and was walked intentionally in the fourth.
Junior Guerra (1-0) worked 1⅔ innings for the victory. Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth after allowing Marcell Ozuna’s sixth home run to open the inning.
In the sixth, the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out. Guerra entered and his first pitch to Paul Goldschmidt sailed past catcher Yasmani Grandal for a run-scoring passed ball. Goldschmidt and Ozuna followed with RBI singles to tie it.
The Brewers erased a 2-0 deficit with six runs in the second off Dakota Hudson. Mike Moustakes opened with his sixth homer. Eric Thames, Ben Gamel, pitcher Freddy Peralta and Lorenzo Cain each singled to account for two runs. Yelich then lined a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center.
St. Louis made it 6-3 in the third on Yadier Molina’s RBI double.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first on consecutive one-out homers by Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong. Goldschmidt has hit five of his seven home runs this season at Miller Park, including a three-homer game on March 29.
Cain robbed Matt Carpenter of a two-run homer with a grab above the center-field wall to end the second inning.
Neither starter was effective. Peralta allowed three runs on four hits with three walks in 3⅓ innings. Hudson was tagged for six runs on eight hits with three walks in 3⅔ innings.
Braun sits again
Ryan Braun was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell said there was no cause for concern.
Braun didn’t play Sunday in Los Angeles because his balky back was acting up. As for Monday, it was a matchup decision — left-handed hitters entered the day with a 1.405 OPS this season against Hudson.
Braun struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.
Right-hander Jimmy Nelson (shoulder) pitched four simulated innings in Arizona on Monday and it “went well,” according to Counsell. Nelson will pitch one more controlled game in Phoenix before the Brewers consider whether to assign him to a minor league affiliate, most likely Class AAA San Antonio.
“The next step is a big one,” Counsell said.