MILWAUKEE -- A team off-day Thursday helped drive the Brewers to give right fielder Ryan Braun at least one more day out of the starting lineup to rest the strained muscle along his right lower rib cage.
The Brewers' slugger, though, pinch-hit in the ninth inning Wednesday and hit an RBI dribbler for a single that brought Milwaukee within a run. Carlos Gomez then singled to tie the score and force extras, but the Brewers fell, 5-4, in 10 innings.
"I didn't think I was going to use him, but he'd been getting loose and said he was feeling really good," manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's why we used him."
Braun finished the spring on a 15-for-25 (.600) tear, including three home runs, after beginning the year 0-for-13. But he was 0-for-2 on Opening Day against the Rockies, and injured his side making a running catch of a Justin Morneau line drive and exited the game.
Braun reported feeling much better a day later. On Wednesday, with the off-day looming, the Brewers opted for caution.
The Brewers host the Pirates on Friday, beginning a stretch of 22 consecutive games against National League Central rivals.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.