MILWAUKEE (AP) - After dropping two of three games to the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals to start the season, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers now must hit the road.
And given the damage to Braun's reputation in a tumultuous offseason that ultimately ended with his potential 50-game suspension for a positive drug test being overturned, the NL MVP is well aware of the reception he might get from opposing fans. It starts with a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
``I don't think I've ever been there and had them applaud me so I don't expect anything different,' Braun said.
Lance Lynn pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning and the Cardinals beat the Brewers 9-3 on Sunday. Braun hit his first home run of the year, a solo shot with the game well out of reach in the ninth.
``It's not about me, it's about the team,' Braun said. ``We lost the game so it's disappointing. Beyond that, you always want to have good at_bats. I felt like, all series, I put together good at_bats and swung the bat pretty well.'
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke likes what he has seen so far from Braun, who also hit two deep flyouts Sunday.
``It was good to see,' Roenicke said. ``He just missed two others. Ryan is taking some really good swings, he's seeing the ball well.'
Corey Hart had a solo homer in the fifth for Milwaukee after hitting a pair of home runs Saturday.
``To see him coming in and being as locked-in as he is, it's a huge boost to our line up,' Braun said of Hart's hot start.
After a rough start to the season, Braun's first road trip isn't the only intriguing storyline that will play out against the Cubs, who now are managed by former Brewers coach Dale Sveum.
``We love Dale,' Braun said. ``He was good to us and means a lot to our whole organization. It'll be great to see him but hopefully we make it rough for him.'
Meanwhile, new Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez faces his former team.
``I think a lot of times, that player that leaves and comes back does great, and then there's the player that comes back and tries so hard to do well that he gets out of his game,' Roenicke said. ``So it's hard to say which way Aramis will go.'
It was the third career start for Lynn (1-0), who played a key relief role during the Cardinals' championship run last season. The 24-year-old right-hander was added to the rotation after Chris Carpenter went on the disabled list with a shoulder problem this spring.
Lynn gave up one run and struck out eight, a career high, while walking only one in 6 2-3 innings. He also picked Braun off first base to end the first and singled in the fourth for his first career hit.
Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals, his second of the season. Shane Robinson added a three-run shot in the ninth, the first homer of his career.
Randy Wolf (0-1) threw 108 pitches in five innings for the Brewers, giving up three runs and nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Matt Holliday gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first when he hit a one-out double to center and Rafael Furcal scored from first on a high throw home by Rickie Weeks. Holliday took third on the throw, but was stranded when Wolf got Beltran and David Freese to ground out.
The Cardinals added another run in the fourth, when Furcal delivered a two-out RBI single on a 3-2 pitch from Wolf, scoring Robinson from second for a 2-0 lead.
Wolf gave up another run in the fifth on an RBI single by Freese, but he limited the damage by getting Robinson to strike out with runners on first and second to end the inning.
Hart then homered off Lynn in the bottom of the fifth. Beltran homered off reliever Marco Estrada in the seventh, giving the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.
With Milwaukee trailing 6-1 in the eighth, Alex Gonzalez hit an RBI double to cut the deficit to four.
Brewers closer John Axford made his first appearance of the season in the ninth but was taken out of the game after back-to-back walks. Kameron Loe came in and gave up a three-run homer to Robinson.
NOTES: Milwaukee's Norichika Aoki singled as a pinch hitter in the eighth for his first career hit, then scored on Gonzalez's double. ... Sunday's attendance was 33,211.
The Associated Press News Service
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