SAN DIEGO -- At some point, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun expects to settle into a rhythm. So far, his season has been a collection of streaks.
On Monday, he appeared back on the upswing. Braun became the first player to hit three home runs at roomy Petco Park in the Brewers' 8-3 win. It was also the first three-homer game of his career. He had a chance for a Major League record-tying fourth home run in the ninth inning, but "settled" for a two-run triple and six RBIs.
"My approach has been really inconsistent," Braun said. "I've felt great, but I knew coming into the year I was going to try too hard, and I was going to be battling that all year. Certainly, I've swung at some pitches I don't typically swing at. For me, the biggest challenge offensively is always plate discipline. As long as I'm swinging at strikes, I know that I'll have success, eventually."
He had success in April, but only in short doses.
After an 0-for-5 Opening Day, the first hitless opener of Braun's career, he entered a 12-for-30 stretch in which he had as many extra-base hits (five) as strikeouts. Then he slipped into an 0-for-16 slump that included nine strikeouts, followed by a 7-for-20 surge in which he belted three home runs and had more extra-base hits (five) than strikeouts (four).
That was followed by a 2-for-11 series in St. Louis in which Braun didn't work a walk, struck out four times and chased more pitches out of the strike zone than manager Ron Roenicke would like. Then came Braun's Monday night.
Overall, Braun's numbers are no cause for concern. He boosted his batting average to .294 with his four-hit effort on Monday, and leads the Brewers with 25 hits, seven home runs, 17 RBIs and 55 total bases.
Still, player and manager have talked about a more consistent plate approach, Roenicke said.
"It's that whole confidence thing," Roenicke said Monday afternoon. "Why do you go on hitting streaks and why do you go in slumps? It's hard to explain what happens. But he knows. He knows what he's doing and what he's doing wrong, and it's hard to stop it.
"Take your walks, and when you start seeing the ball better, then you also don't miss that one mistake they make. He's fouling off a lot of pitches that he usually hits. He'll get it going."