ST. LOUIS -- The box scores say he was 3-for-18 on the first two legs of the Brewers' long road trip, but Aramis Ramirez felt better than that and manager Ron Roenicke saw better than that.
"Two games ago, he squared up three balls well for outs, and even the at-bat [on Thursday], he just missed it," Roenicke said Friday afternoon, referring to a warning-track fly in the Brewers' loss to the Pirates. "So, I like the way he's swinging the bat. He's obviously still not 100 percent, but he's important in our lineup in that four-spot."
Said Ramirez: "I thought I swung the bat pretty good in Pittsburgh, I just didn't have any results. I made five or six outs in the warning track, some line drives. Hopefully, good things are coming."
It turns out he was right. Ramirez returned to the lineup Friday for his 10th start since returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list, and he delivered a three-run home run in the fourth inning that put the Brewers on the scoreboard, and another three-run blast in the sixth that cut their deficit to 7-6. All three of Ramirez's three home runs this season have come in the 10 starts since he returned.
"It was nice to see 'Ramie' get a couple, too," Roenicke said. "I think he has been swinging the bat well and he hasn't had anything to show for it. That was a big day for him."
It marked the 26th multihomer game of Ramirez's career, and his seventh game with at least six RBIs. He has a pair of seven-RBI games, most recently in July 2010 for the Cubs against the Astros. In 173 previous games against the Cardinals, Ramirez had never driven in more than three runs.
Ramirez's left knee remains far less than 100 percent, so Roenicke has been working in regular days of rest.
That policy has no end in sight, Roenicke said.
"I'm not thinking in a week from now that I can leave him out there all nine innings and not worry about him. I know I'm not there," Roenicke said. "It's not [ideal], but he wants to be out there and he knows he can help us by being in the lineup. I think if we thought this was a quick fix, that if he took off a week that he'd be fine, then it would be different. But that's not what we're thinking."
Roenicke delivers rare postgame pep talk on Thursday
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Ron Roenicke was the only one who spoke when he called a rare postgame meeting on Thursday after the Brewers lost for the 12th time in 14 games.
"It gets to a time when I feel like it's right," said Roenicke, who reluctantly discussed the gathering on Friday ahead of a key series at Busch Stadium. "Maybe it's something I feel like I need to say. It may not even be going that bad; it may just be something I see that I need to address. I always have a chance to talk to them that first day on the road, but we're going home for a long homestand [so] it may be two and a half weeks or so until I can say something. Sometimes I don't want to let it go that long."
One of those sometimes came late Thursday following a 7-1 loss to the Pirates.
Asked for his view of the meeting's tone, veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez said, "We know we're better than we've been playing. We've lost 12 out of the 14 games -- we know we're better than that. Even though we're playing some good teams and facing some good pitching, it's not going to get any easier. We've got to get it done. It doesn't matter who we play."
Roenicke's gathering was not completely unprecedented. He said he called "a couple" of postgame meetings last year, and also occasionally addresses big-picture issues during the Brewers' regular pre-series meetings, especially at the start of a road trip.
Sometimes, veteran players will chime in. Not Thursday, according to Ramirez.
"Just the manager," Ramirez said. "He just tried to keep it on the positive side. You never want to get used to losing. You've got to try and turn it around one way or another.
"I'm not a big fan of meetings, and I'm sure Ron isn't, either. But sometimes you've got to let the players know, 'You're better than what you're doing out there.' And we know we're better than that. We proved it last year -- we didn't start the way we wanted but we played good the last two months, but that wasn't enough. That's why you don't want to get so far behind. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and St. Louis -- they're really good."
In the first 39 games of his third season as Brewers manager, Roenicke has already removed John Axford from the closer's role, demoted fifth starter Mike Fiers (he has since rejoined the team as a reliever) and made significant alterations to his batting order in light of prolonged slumps for second baseman Rickie Weeks and catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
The Brewers have been streaky, to say the least. After beginning the season 2-8, they won nine in a row and 12 of 15, then lost five in a row and 12 of 14 games entering Friday night in St. Louis.
It has been a challenging couple of weeks.
"Yeah, more than a couple weeks," Roenicke said. "It's been tough on everybody this year. We went through one good span, and that's really been it."
• With the offense sputtering and some key hitters like Weeks and Lucroy in deep slumps, Roenicke is trying to consolidate his hot hitters at the top of the lineup. Weeks dropped to hit seventh on Friday.
"It doesn't make sense for me to spread them out," he said. "That's been part of the issue for me. We'll get nine, 10 hits in a game and score one run. It's because those hits are spread out. We really need to group them, and if we can only score runs from one group, then we'll do the best we can with that little group."
• The Brewers on Friday released a limited number of additional tickets to Saturday's Kenny Chesney concert at Miller Park after production adjustments opened space. The tickets were available in the sandbar ($235) and floor ($140) categories. They were for sale at Brewers.com/Chesney.
The concert will also feature special guests Eric Church, The Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves. Miller Park is the fourth stop on Chesney's 17-stop tour and is one of three Major League ballparks on the schedule, with Target Field in Minneapolis and Angel Stadium in Anaheim. It's the first major concert at Miller Park since Farm Aid's 25th anniversary show in 2010.
Later this summer, Paul McCartney will play Miller Park. Those tickets are for sale at Brewers.com/McCartney.