Ryan Braun certain he'll break out of mini-slump

DENVER -- The longest home run drought of Ryan Braun's 2012 season just happens to come with him sitting on 29 home runs. Perhaps it is a coincidence. Perhaps not.

"When you get close to a number, I don't think you necessarily try to force yourself to get there, but you are absolutely conscious of it," Braun said. "Anybody who says they're not, he's lying. Guys say, 'Oh, I didn't even know I was at 99 RBIs.'

"Yeah, right."

He spoke while stretching in the clubhouse, part of Braun's extensive pregame routine that begins hours before batting practice, and includes weight work, stretching and dips in hot and cold tubs. None of that has changed.

"I've said it many times: It's all part of this game," Braun said of his mini-slump. "You go through stretches where you're really good, stretches where you're not so good, and you try to keep your sanity in those bad times."

Braun has been enduring some relative bad times, which have been rare in his defense of the National League MVP Award. Including Tuesday's 0-for-5 in an 8-6 loss to the Rockies, he is homerless in 49 plate appearances and 47 at-bats since engaging Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez in a 14-pitch battle at Miller Park on Aug. 1 that finally ended with a line-drive home run, Braun's NL-best 29th this season.

Since that home run, Braun is 9-for-47 with four doubles, four RBIs and no home runs, for a .191 batting average in that span. On Tuesday, he struck out in the eighth inning and the Brewers trailing, 8-3. He flied out to end the game, representing the go-ahead run.

But Braun astutely points out that this is not his first stretch approximating a "slump" this season. He endured an 8-for-39 stretch with no home runs in April. He came out of that funk with an April 21 home run against the Rockies, then surged into the All-Star Game with 23 homers in his next 67 games.

"For the most part, I've been really consistent through most of this season," Braun said. "My numbers, month to month, have been really consistent. It just lets me know that the longer I don't go good, the higher the likelihood is that I will have a good game and get locked back in.

"I feel good. As long as I feel good, physically, I'm fine. I have no doubt that I'm going to finish the season strong."

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