ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -The most productive player in the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup so far hasn't been Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun. It's none other than Corey Hart - who wasn't even a regular player when the season began.
Hart hit a three-run double to lead the Brewers to a 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. He has 35 RBIs over his last 30 games and 47 for the season, one fewer than he had last season in 419 at_bats. He is tied with teammate Casey McGehee in that department, and leads the club with 17 home runs - four more than Fielder.
``Obviously, if I'm leading the team in home runs and RBIs, it just means those guys aren't hot yet,' said Hart, who had a career-high 91 RBIs for the Brewers in 2008. ``The fact that their best hasn't been there yet is a good sign for us.'
Manager Ken Macha is proud of the way Hart has battled his way back into a regular role.
``It's quite a story in itself,' Macha said. ``He had a miserable spring training. He didn't know whether to wear glasses or contacts. There were a lot of reports that he was being traded, and he was not the opening day right fielder. So credit him and Dale (hitting coach Dale Sveum). They've been working very hard, and it's paying off. As a matter of fact, today was like the first day he hasn't been out there for extra BP.'
Hart is getting a great deal of satisfaction over the way things have worked out.
``I was disappointed because I felt like I earned the right not to lose that spot because of a bad spring. But it's motivated me to push harder to get that spot back,' Hart said. ``I told Ken I was going to keep working to earn it back. I feel like I have, and I'm not stopping.'
Dave Bush (2-5) allowed one run and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings in his longest outing of the season. It was the right-hander's first victory in 10 starts since winning at Pittsburgh on April 20.
``It's been a while,' said Bush, who was staked to a 2-0 lead with Fielder's homer before he threw his first pitch. ``It's been a tough stretch and it's been frustrating, but I've just tried to keep plugging along and keep working at what I'm doing. I had a lot of decent outings in the interim, but it's hard to feel completely satisfied unless we win.'
Bush struck out only one, but did not walk a batter and retired 15 of 17 during one stretch. He is just 4-10 in 20 starts since June 4, 2009, when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Florida's Hanley Ramirez and missed two months with a tear in his right triceps muscle.
``I threw a lot of strikes, used my fastball down in the zone and got a lot of ground-ball outs,' he said. ``And I tried to stay out of patterns. Pitching to contact gives you quick outs, but it also puts me in counts that are to my advantage. Knowing that everyone is going to put the ball in play, it's a lot better when the count is in my advantage.'
Maicer Izturis, who drove in the Angels' run with a double that chased Bush, started at shortstop for the fourth time this season and in the leadoff spot for the sixth time in place of the injured Erick Aybar.
Aybar, who left Monday night's 12-2 loss with a hyperextended left knee after a hard takeout slide by McGehee, had an MRI exam that revealed some damage. A club spokesman said his playing status will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Ervin Santana (6-5) threw 103 pitches over five innings, allowing six runs and 10 hits. He also lasted only five innings in his previous outing, a 6-1 loss at Oakland, after winning five consecutive starts.
``When I got to two strikes tonight and I tried to finish them off with my slider, it was not working,' Santana said. ``There's nothing I can do but keep focused and keep working hard.'
NOTES: Torii Hunter was thrown out trying to steal third in the seventh with his team down by six runs. Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy, making his seventh start behind the plate, has nabbed three of seven runners who have tried to advance.... Fielder increased his RBI total to 26. Nine of his previous 10 came on solo home runs. He is only 10 for 62 with runners in scoring position. ... The Angels activated 3B Brandon Wood from the 15-day disabled list and optioned RHP Rafael Rodriguez to Triple-A Salt Lake. Wood had been sidelined since May 24 because of a hip flexor strain. He was batting .156 with two homers and seven RBIs in 122 at_bats at the time of his injury.
The Associated Press News Service
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