MILWAUKEE -- It was not by choice that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke posted a starting lineup Sunday minus five of the team's eight Opening Day position players. With second baseman Scooter Gennett, center fielder Carlos Gomez and catcher Jonathan Lucroy already on the disabled list, Roenicke reported that left fielder Ryan Braun and third baseman Aramis Ramirez both said they needed a day off.
"It's not something I want to do, rest them," Roenicke said. "I need these guys in here playing, trying to win. But when someone tells me they need a day off, they need a day off."
Well, it worked out. Gerardo Parra delivered two extra-base hits and scored two runs in his first start in the three-hole in six years, cleanup hitter Adam Lind belted a long two-run home run and the Brewers matched their second-best run total of the season in a 6-3 win over the Cardinals at Miller Park.
The victory avoided a three-game sweep and boosted the Brewers' record to 4-15. Braun and Ramirez should be back Monday night in Cincinnati.
"It's probably not good if your extras play better than your starters," Roenicke said. "But a good game today. We got some big hits -- we [also] got a couple of lucky breaks -- but I thought they did a great job."
So much for the morning consternation about a lineup that featured a three-hole hitter in Parra -- who entered the game batting .167 in 42 at-bats with a .186 on-base percentage and a .424 OPS. Asked whether Braun and Ramirez were banged-up physically or just required a mental break, Roenicke said, "Well, it's a little of both. Aramis is more, I've just got to make sure that we are giving him days off just to keep him strong. Then Brauny's got some bumps and bruises. He's trying to grind it out, but he needed a day."
After going 0-for-4 Saturday including a critical sixth-inning strikeout in a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals, Braun said his surgically repaired right thumb was 100 percent healthy. Roenicke confirmed that Sunday. Braun did suffer a rib-cage strain banging into the right field wall on Opening Day and missed two starts.
Through his first 17 games, Braun had hit .230/.277/.279. He had only one extra-base hit -- a home run -- and four RBIs. On Saturday night, Braun admitted he is "swinging terribly."
"He's pressing like everybody is," Roenicke said. "They're frustrated they're not seeing better results. I think he's had a lot of really good at-bats but he doesn't have much to show for it."
Ramirez hit .197/.197/.295 in his first 17 games.
On Sunday, the Brewers' reserves fared better. Logan Schafer and Elian Herrera each contributed two hits, an RBI and a run scored. In the fifth inning after the Cardinals cut the Brewers' lead to 3-2, Khris Davis, Herrera and Hector Gomez each delivered a run-scoring hit with two outs. Gomez started in Ramirez's place at third base.
"I feel like we've been playing better baseball lately, the last couple days," Schafer said. "That's what we need to do -- when we get into trouble we need to be able to get ourselves out of it. We had back-to-back hits with two outs and a runner on base, and those are the little things we need to be able to do to scratch out some wins."
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.