MILWAUKEE -- Has any Brewers player raised his stock more this season than Khris Davis? He parlayed a power-packed Spring Training into a spot on the Opening Day roster, and a red-hot August elevated him to a prime spot in Sunday's starting lineup.
With third baseman Aramis Ramirez resting his balky knee, Davis batted cleanup in manager Ron Roenicke's lineup for the first time in his career.
"It doesn't change anything I do," Davis said. "I'm just going to go out and get in my own world out there, and maybe I can bang one in, or two."
He entered the afternoon batting .296 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. Since Davis returned in late July to replace the suspended Ryan Braun, he was hitting .321, will all of his homers and RBIs coming in that stretch.
"It's a confidence thing," he said after seeing Sunday's lineup posted in the clubhouse. "Roenicke is making out the lineups, and if he's throwing me in the four-hole, that tells me he believes in me. I'm going to believe in myself, but to see he believes in me, too, it's like, cool."
Roenicke conceded that it was not ideal to bat a rookie in that spot, saying his hand has been forced by injuries and the Braun suspension.
"The options, they're just not there," Roenicke said. "If I had everybody here, Davis would not be hitting fourth right now."
Of his productive August, Davis said, "I'm just really thankful. I've worked so hard my whole life to get to this point, and for me to show I can have success consistently, it makes me even hungrier. It makes me want to work harder."
Brewers acquire reliever to complete Axford deal
MILWAUKEE -- Two days after sending John Axford to the Cardinals, the Brewers completed the trade Sunday by acquiring 24-year-old reliever Michael Blazek, who will join the big league team before Monday's game against the Pirates.
The trade turned into a swap of right-handers with high strikeout rates and occasional command concerns. Blazek, who converted from starter to reliever in 2012, issued 10 walks with 10 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings with the Cardinals this season, his first stint in the Major Leagues, but was excellent in the Minors, pitching to a 1.97 ERA in 36 appearances between St. Louis' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
He struck out 52 batters versus 26 walks in 45 2/3 innings in the Minors, his best strikeout rate (10.2 per nine innings) since 2007 in rookie ball.
"We had good reports and [pro scout] Leon Wurth recently saw him and liked his arm," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He'll be here tomorrow, and we'll see if we can get him in some games in September."
Blazek's fastball averaged 92-95 mph in his outings with the Cardinals, according to the website FanGraphs.com.
Asked what sort of role he profiled for, Melvin said, "I don't think we know enough about him. We have a lot of pitchers we'd like to see [this month], but he'll get in some games."
The Cardinals drafted Blazek (pronounced BLAY-zek) out of high school in the 35th round in 2007. He was added to the Cards' 40-man roster last year, attended his first Major League Spring Training camp, and has two options remaining. He will wear uniform No. 54 with the Brewers.
Well-traveled reliever Hand rejoins Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers recalled right-handed pitcher Donovan Hand from Triple-A Nashville as the first of the team's September callups, and he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the Brewers' 5-3 loss to the Angels on Sunday.
Hand, who spent nearly three months with the Brewers from late May to mid-August, has shuttled back-and-forth from Nashville several times in the last two weeks.
"It's been different, but it's something you've got to do," Hand said. "That's part of the deal. I'm back, and that's all you can ask for. Like I said at the beginning when I got here, I'll take it one day at a time. Whether it's here or Nashville, whatever. It's still playing the game I love, and I'm back and we'll see what happens the last month."
Hand was sent down to Triple-A on Aug. 16, but was called back up to the Brewers on Aug. 21, when reliever Rob Wooten was placed on the paternity list. Hand pitched that day before being optioned back to Nashville after the game.
He was just happy to be back on Sunday.
"It's always good to be a part of this clubhouse and just the atmosphere here," said the 27-year-old right-hander. "I've proven I can pitch here, and to be back this last month and hopefully go into next year with some good things."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke talked about the opportunity the team's young players have in the last month of the season.
"It's a great spot for these guys to show what they can do and make an impression on not just myself, but Doug [Melvin] upstairs and his guys trying to figure out things for next year," Roenicke said. "Most of the time, you have guys coming up, and it's always the same thing: 'Well, I didn't really get an opportunity to show them.' Well, you're getting an opportunity."
Entering Sunday, Hand had a 3.75 ERA in 21 appearances for the Brewers, including seven starts. He was yet to notch his first Major League win and was 0-4.
• Second baseman Scooter Gennett was named Brewers player of the month for August after leading the Major Leagues with a .423 average. His 33 hits in August were the fourth-most of all-time for a Brewers rookie in the month. Scott Podsednik set the club record with 39 hits in August 2003, and Pat Listach (1992) and Ernie Riles (1985) each had 36.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.