Though he's yet to really get going, Ryan Braun continues to come up big when the Milwaukee Brewers need him most.
Braun and the Brewers go for an eighth consecutive victory Monday night when they open a three-game set against the slumping San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
While Braun is mired in a 5-for-32 slump, four of those hits have left the yard - including a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning of Sunday's 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
"I'm not making a lot of contact, but when I do make contact, it counts," Braun, who has 10 RBIs during the winning streak, told MLB's official website. "Lots of homers - meaningful homers. ... It's not even about me, it's about the team. We're winning games."
Despite going deep earlier in the day, Braun's frustrations caught up to him in the eighth, when he struck out looking and was ejected for tossing his bat in the air.
"Umpires are human and make mistakes," Braun said. "It was tough for me because those are the type of pitches I am trying not to swing at. But you just have to move on."
Braun, a career .313 hitter, has 20 strikeouts in 50 at-bats thus far.
"He's obviously not locked in right now," manager Ron Roenicke said. "There are pitches that he usually hits that he's missing and fouling."
Looking to win eight straight for the first time since Aug. 5-13, 2008, Milwaukee (9-8) now tries to keep things going against the Padres (5-13).
The Brewers haven't won a series at San Diego since 2008 - that last eight-game run, oddly enough, ended in the finale of that set at Petco - and they've been shut out in three of their last four there. The lone win in that stretch was an 8-3 victory last April 30 as Braun went 4 for 5 with a career high-tying six RBIs - becoming the first player to hit three homers in one game at Petco.
"That was a good night," Roenicke said. "It's hard to win games in San Diego. They have good pitching, and they scrap and get a few runs. It's tough to score runs in San Diego - the ballpark, certainly, but also their pitching's good. And to go in there and score a lot of runs, it usually doesn't happen."
Contrary to Roenicke's remarks, San Diego hasn't proven very formidable of late. The Padres were limited to a combined two runs during a three-game sweep at San Francisco this weekend, dropping to 3-8 over their last 11 games.
"I can't put my finger on it other than to say they made pitches," manager Bud Black said after Sunday's 5-0 loss.
Losers in five straight at home, the Padres look to regroup against Kyle Lohse (0-1, 2.70 ERA), who has only issued one walk over his first three starts spanning 20 innings. The right-hander gave up three runs and six hits over seven frames Wednesday in a 4-3 walkoff win over San Francisco.
"It's a shame, when you're pitching as good as Lohse is pitching for us, to not come out of this with some wins," Roenicke said of Lohse, who carried a perfect game into the fifth. "I think he's done a great job for three games and we don't have a win for him."
Lohse is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA over his last three starts versus San Diego.
The Padres counter with Jason Marquis (1-1, 2.41), who scattered three hits over 7 2-3 innings of one-run ball Tuesday in a 9-2 road victory over the Dodgers.
"It's always nice to get the first win out of the way," he said. "I battled, even though the numbers don't reflect that, but my fastball command wasn't where I wanted it."
Marquis is 3-8 with an ugly 6.72 ERA over his last 14 starts versus Milwaukee. Braun is 11 for 22 with five doubles against him.