Wolf (5-6) surrendered three successive hits in the second inning, including Kevin Frandsen's two-run double, but nothing else in a seven-inning outing that eased the pain of a loss to the Cubs last week in which Wolf served up five home runs. On Monday, he cooled an Angels club that had won 13 of its last 16 games, including 11 of 14 games on a marathon road trip.
The outing turned with those few deeps breaths.
"I've been trying to minimize what's been going on between my ears," Wolf said, adding that he had a long talk with pitching coach Rick Peterson "about what's been going on the past couple of weeks. I know it's been mainly what's going on in my head, because it's not my stuff, it's not my delivery. It's what's going on in my head, and I had to correct that, first and foremost."
Wolf, who came to Milwaukee over the winter with a three-year contract worth nearly $30 million, explained it as "getting caught up in your thoughts." It almost happened after Frandsen punched a fastball down the right-field line for a 2-0 Angels lead, but Wolf paused, collected himself and then retired Erick Aybar.
The Brewers broke through against Angels starter Joe Saunders (5-7) in the next half-inning. Catcher George Kottaras hit an RBI double and Braun followed four batters later with his grand slam to straightaway center field.
Kottaras reached safely three times and scored twice. Corey Hart had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice. Braun also scored a pair of runs and had two hits, including his third career grand slam.
Casey McGehee also homered, but he had some help. Angels center fielder Torii Hunter appeared to have McGehee out on a leaping catch at the center-field warning track, but the baseball popped out of Hunter's glove and bounced over the wall for a 6-2 Milwaukee lead.
McGehee smiled after he circled the bases.
"It was kind of a chuckle about how crazy this game can be sometimes," McGehee said.
Said Hunter: "It was just terrible -- Charles Barkley terrible. I've never had that happen in my professional career, 18 years. I can't explain it. It was ugly. I was jumping in the air. ... I've made that play hundreds of times. I should have secured it better, should have caught it. I was pretty heated after that."
By that time, Wolf was cruising. He walked two batters in the third inning and then lost his grip on a pitch to Howard Kendrick and hit him, loading the bases. But Wolf recovered again to retire dangerous Juan Rivera on a fly to right field and locked in after that. Starting with Rivera, Wolf retired the final 13 hitters he faced, 11 of them on groundouts and another on a called Strike 3.
"I thought he used his off-speed well," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "He got a lot of soft ground balls with his off-speed."
The Brewers' offense took it from there. They opened an 11-2 lead in a seventh inning overshadowed by a nasty left leg injury suffered by Angels shortstop Aybar.
Braun had just hit an RBI single to give the Brewers a 9-2 lead when Angels reliever Trevor Bell hit McGehee in the rib cage with a pitch. Next up was Carlos Gomez, who hit a fielder's-choice grounder to the first baseman Frandsen, who tried to initiate a double play. The throw pulled Aybar into a defenseless position as McGehee slid hard into the bag.
Aybar hit the dirt in pain. He left the game with assistance from athletic trainers and is day-to-day with a hyperextended left knee. McGehee insisted that his hard slide had nothing to do with being hit by a pitch.
"Did it hurt? Yeah. But was I going extra hard because I got hit? No," McGehee said. "I was going into second base to make a slide to make sure he couldn't turn a double play. Unfortunately, the guy was in an awkward position.
"Look at the video. I didn't pop up on him, try to roll on him. I was just trying to slide hard and break up the double play. Unfortunately, he got hurt."
McGehee's Brewers teammates had the same view. So did the Angels' Hunter.
"He tried to break up a double play," Hunter said. "He couldn't do anything about it. I like it; that's the way we play the game. I respect it. Aybar is one of our better players, and we don't know how his knee is. He says he's all right. I hope so."
Aybar's injury was not the only oddity in the seventh inning. With the Brewers still batting, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck near the U.S.-Mexican border and briefly delayed the Blue Jays-Padres game in San Diego. The tremors at Angel Stadium were nowhere near as severe. Braun and McGehee were unaware out on the field. Some players who were in the training room noticed it from the water sloshing around the whirlpool.
"Everybody was talking about it," Braun said. "That's crazy."