Milwaukee waited to finalize its starters until Braun got a chance to take batting practice before the series opener at the Chicago Cubs. The 2011 NL MVP looked just fine in the cage, so Milwaukee put him back in left field and his usual No. 3 spot in the batting order.
Braun doubled twice and finished with three hits as the Brewers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory. He is batting .500 (7 for 14) with a homer and five RBIs in four games this season.
"He swung the bat great, but just having him in the lineup makes a difference," manager Ron Roenicke said.
While Braun returned to the lineup, shortstop Jean Segura was out with a bruised left quadriceps. The Brewers also placed left-hander Chris Narveson on the 15-day disabled list after the game with a sprained left middle finger.
The team will make a corresponding roster move on Tuesday, and Roenicke indicated a position player would be added because the Brewers have 13 pitchers on the roster.
Milwaukee also is missing third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who went on the disabled list Saturday with a sprained left knee, and first baseman Corey Hart, expected to miss the first month of the season while recovering from right knee surgery.
"A lot going on," Roenicke said. "It's not like we have pieces that we can just slip in and move chips around. Trying to figure out the pieces are difficult, as well as moving those guys around."
Segura was injured when Arizona's Gerardo Parra made a hard slide into his leg to break up a potential double play in the third inning of Sunday's 8-7 loss to the Diamondbacks. He tried to stay in the game, earning a loud cheer from the Miller Park crowd, but was replaced in the field before Arizona batted in the fifth.
"Sore. He's OK, though," Roenicke said when asked about Segura's status before the game. "It's a deep bruise."
Braun took batting practice Friday, but was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Khris Davis. He then missed losses to Arizona on Saturday and Sunday.
The matchup with the Cubs was the first road game for Braun since his name surfaced in records from the now-defunct Biogenesis of America LLC clinic alleged to have provided banned substances to several players. After his name was connected to the clinic, Braun issued a statement in which he said he used the clinic's operator, Anthony Bosch, as a consultant in appealing a positive drug test that was overturned last year.
Braun was lustily booed by the crowd of 40,083, but he is the best player on one of Chicago's division rivals. And the fans hardly seemed to notice he was at the plate after they got done jeering struggling reliever Carlos Marmol when he came on to pitch the eighth.
"Yeah, I don't think they've ever cheered for me here," Braun said with a grin. "Not too much different than it's ever been in the past."