MILWAUKEE -- For the first time since July 18 and only the fifth time this season, Ryan Braun was not the Brewers' starting left fielder on Monday.

Why? Well, that was a matter for debate.

Brewers manager Ken Macha said Braun had been complaining of "aches and pains" in his right shoulder, and indeed Braun emerged in the clubhouse following Monday's 3-0 loss to the Cardinals having just iced the joint. But Braun seemed surprised by the manager's revelation about his shoulder.

"I don't know what he's talking about," Braun said as he walked away.

One thing they agreed upon: Braun should be back in the Brewers' lineup on Tuesday night against John Smoltz.

"It's just a day off," Macha insisted earlier in the day, and it was as good a day as any. Braun is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who started Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park and pitched a complete-game one-hitter. It was also a holiday day game, and Braun is hitting 83 points lower in the daytime (.257 vs. .340 at night) with a dramatically lower on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.749 during the day vs. 1.027 at night).

"The trainer thought that it would be best to give him today off," Macha said. "We had a day game yesterday and a night game tomorrow, so it will be almost like he has two days off in a row."

Braun is riding a six-game hitting streak and leads Brewers regulars with a .311 batting average.

The Brewers' more pressing concern might be center fielder Mike Cameron, who missed a second consecutive start on Monday and likely will remain sidelined for much of the week.

Cameron strained his right hamstring on Saturday in a pinch-hit appearance. With a day game Wednesday and then a day off Thursday, Cameron did not expect to return to action until Friday at the earliest.

"If I'm out, you know it's bad," Cameron said. "It's not good. It's spasming right now."

Cameron said he might be available for pinch-hit duties but could not play the field. The Brewers are well-covered in the outfield, with Corey Patterson, Jody Gerut and Jason Bourgeois all available to play center. When Corey Hart returns from a rehab assignment on Tuesday, the Brewers will have seven outfielders on the roster.

On Monday, Cameron's absence gave Corey Patterson an opportunity to make his first Milwaukee start since a promotion from Triple-A Nashville on Friday. Patterson, who was penciled in as the leadoff man, entered the game 10-for-24 (.417) against Carpenter with a home run but finished 0-for-4. Gerut had the Brewers' only hit, a one-out double in the fifth inning.