Counsell obliged, and the move paid immediate dividends.
Jonathan Villar and Christian Yelich homered, while Braun had three hits to lead the Brewers to an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
“To this point in the season I’ve really been unlucky hitting third, so maybe you move to fifth and it changes the luck a little bit,” said Braun, who is batting .245 in 42 games.
Braun, dropped those two spots in the lineup, went 3 for 3 with a double, two singles and an intentional walk while scoring three times. It was the first time Braun batted lower than fourth in the lineup since Sept. 23, 2014 at Cincinnati, when he was batting fifth.
Aguilar took over at first base when Eric Thames went on the disabled list April 25 and is batting .315 with nine home runs and 30 RBI, hitting third while Braun was on the disabled list with a back injury. Braun returned from the DL on Thursday, and the stats prompted him to suggest to Counsell to leave the slugging Aguilar in the third spot.
“I didn’t know if he (Counsell) was going to be hesitant, or afraid to bring it up, like he might offend me or something,” Braun said. “So I went in there yesterday and said things are going so well, obviously Aggie’s swinging the bat so well, offensively the team’s in a good place, I think it makes a lot of sense to leave him there.”
Milwaukee starter Brent Suter (5-3) allowed three runs in five innings, but hit a two-run double in the fourth that gave Milwaukee a 4-0 lead. Milwaukee won for the 10th time in 12 games.
St. Louis starter Luke Weaver (3-5) lost his third consecutive start, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in four innings.
“You try to find the positives in any type of failure situation, and I feel like I’ve been strong, I’ve made some good pitches, though some statistics or whatever might not show up in a positive way,” Weaver said.
The Brewers were shut out 5-0 by the Mets on Thursday. Since then, they’ve scored 37 runs in four games, all victories.
Milwaukee broke open the game in the seventh inning. With two outs and Yelich on second, the Cardinals intentionally walked Braun to face Villar. The second baseman hit the second pitch from Brent Cecil into the Milwaukee bullpen for an 8-3 lead.
“We had a good offensive day today, a bunch of innings where we put pressure on (Weaver) and we came through in a couple of those situations,” Counsell said.
Yelich hit his sixth homer, singled, stole two bases and scored twice.
Yairo Munoz hit his first major-league homer in the fifth, a two-run shot, and Matt Carpenter hit his sixth, a solo shot, later in the inning to pull the Cardinals within 4-3.
IN THE CLUTCH
The Brewers scored all eight runs with two outs, going 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position. St. Louis was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. “The guys are working hard, going about their at-bats, and some days we score runs and some days we don’t,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.
Cardinals: OF Dexter Fowler was not in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game after being hit in the right knee with a pitch from Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams. RHP Alex Reyes, who struck out 44 in 23 innings while allowing no runs and seven hits in four minor-league rehab starts, will make his first start since 2016 on Wednesday in Milwaukee. Reyes underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2017.
Brewers: Suter took a line drive from Harrison Bader off his chest in the second inning, but recovered to make the throw to first for the out. “I’ve actually taken one off the head before,” he said. “I was kind of trying to make sure my face was protected and it hit my chest. It’s one of those scary moments in baseball.”
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (5-1, 2.88 ERA) will be on the mound in the middle game of the series. He has held opponents to two runs or less in each of his last seven starts.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 4.74) will make his second start since coming off the disabled list Thursday. He was the losing pitcher in the Cardinals’ 8-4 win on April 2 at Miller Park.