ST. LOUIS -- Brewers reliever Manny Parra said he "felt lucky" to have suffered only a black eye and swollen left cheek in a scary moment during Friday's win over the Cardinals.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Parra was struck in the face by an Adron Chambers comebacker. The baseball deflected right to first baseman Corey Hart, who completed the inning-ending out.

"He took a pretty good shot," manager Ron Roenicke said of Parra. "We were just talking about it, and I can't believe the ball ricocheted that far off a cheek to where our first baseman can get an out on it. That's a long ways over there. He had stitch marks on his cheek."

Parra's scare came two days after a much more serious situation involving A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who was struck in the head by a line drive and suffered an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture. McCarthy required two hours of surgery but is recovering this weekend in the hospital.

Braun hitting for more power than ever

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Braun is having the best power year of his career, and manager Ron Roenicke believes the reason is pretty simple.

"'Brauny' kind of does what he wants to do," Roenicke said. "If Brauny decides, 'Hey, I think I need to hit for more power this year,' he can do it."

And he has. Braun's go-ahead home run in the 13th inning Friday night was his 38th this season, a new career high with 24 games left to add on. It also made Braun the first player in Brewers history to reach 100 RBIs in five different seasons.

He predictably said the team win took precedence.

"It's nice that it came in a big situation to help us win a game," Braun said. "But I've always said that the middle of the season is not a time to reflect on things like that. One hundred RBIs is definitely cool, for the fifth time. It just shows that I've been on some good teams, had some good players around me and gotten opportunities to drive guys in. It's pretty cool that it came in a meaningful situation."

The trade-off for the power has been a slight dip in batting average (.332 last season, .312 entering play Saturday) and on-base percentage (.397 to .387) and an increase in strikeouts (93 last season to 111 this season, in 20 fewer games).

Roenicke suggested that Braun is a special enough hitter to control those levels.

"If Brauny decided, 'Hey, I'm just going to get line drive singles everywhere,' I think he could hit .350," Roenicke said.

Gallardo savors successful outing vs. Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Yovani Gallardo felt good about his quality outing against the Cardinals on Friday, even if it was a no-decision. He's had trouble with this National League Central rival in the past.

"It seems like I hear about it every time I'm here," he said.

Gallardo entered the night 1-9 with a 7.05 ERA in 13 career starts against the Cardinals, and appeared headed for another long night after falling into a 2-0 hole after one inning. But Gallardo stiffened after that, holding St. Louis to no more runs through the end of the sixth.

The outing came after a two hour, 20 minute rain delay.

"It was tough sitting in the clubhouse for seven hours, trying to figure out if you were going to play or not," he said. "The first couple of innings, I was just leaving the ball up in the zone. ... They made me work, for sure. They put guys on base every inning, it seemed like. It's always a good thing to be able to get out of certain situations."

Statistically speaking, it was Gallardo's fourth-best start of his 14 outings against St. Louis, using Bill James' "game score" as a guide. His best outing came last May, when Gallardo took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and wound up allowing that lone hit in eight scoreless frames.

Many more of his matchups against St. Louis went poorly. On Opening Day, the Cardinals touched Gallardo for four home runs. Later that month, they scored eight earned runs against him in two innings.

On Friday, it was Gallardo's turn to give the Cardinals trouble.

"I think that was a big game for him going forward, knowing that, 'Hey, I just need to make pitches and I can beat anybody,'" Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Last Call

• How close is John Axford to being back to the form he showed last season?

"I think his fastball is there. I don't think his breaking ball is there," Roenicke said. "His fastball is locating well, and the velocity is there. He was pretty automatic with his curveball last year; if he wanted to throw one first pitch, he usually threw it for a strike, and when he wanted to bury one with two strikes, he could always bounce it."

But Axford's general trajectory is encouraging, Roenicke said.

"He's got more confidence," he said.

• Roenicke spoke Saturday morning with his son, Lance, whose Class A Wisconsin club advanced to the Midwest League semifinals on Friday night. Lance Roenicke has been limited to pinch-running duties because of wrist and shoulder injuries.

The Timber Rattlers were right back to work in Clinton, Iowa, on Saturday night for the opener of a best-of-three series. Game 2 of the series is back in Appleton, Wis., on Sunday night.