Hart and the Brewers try to extend their winning streak to a season-high six games Sunday when they close out a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Miller Park.
While Hart went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, a stolen base and an RBI in Saturday’s 7-1 victory, his best at-bat may have been a third-inning walk he coaxed from Royals starter Brian Bannister in a 13-pitch plate appearance that triggered a three-run rally.
“That at-bat takes a huge toll on a pitcher,” Brewers manager Ned Yost told the team’s official Web site. “You’re standing out there making pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch. You’re getting your pitch count up, and you’re throwing everything at him but the kitchen sink trying to get him out.
“We’ve experienced it on the pitching side, where you’re sitting there looking—OK, foul ball, foul ball, foul ball—you’re thinking, ‘Man, get this guy out. The pitch count is climbing.’”
Hart stole second and later scored on rookie Ryan Braun’s double to make it 3-1 as the Brewers (43-31) won for the ninth time in 10 contests, rebuilding their NL Central lead to 8 1/2 games. In that surge, Hart is hitting .422 (19-for-45) with five homers, 14 RBIs and 13 runs, and Milwaukee has outscored opponents 70-40.
“We’re in one of those (stretches) where everyone is picking it up,” Hart said. “Not one player is doing it alone.”
Milwaukee, which is 27-12 at Miller Park, tries to complete its fourth three-game sweep there behind rookie Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 4.26 ERA). The 21-year-old right-hander won his major league debut Monday against San Francisco, carrying a shutout into the seventh inning before allowing homers to Pedro Feliz and Ray Durham in the 5-4 victory.
“That first inning, I was a little bit nervous,” said Gallardo, who threw 62 of his 102 pitches for strikes. “But I was able to settle down after that and just pitch the way I’ve been pitching and it worked out.”
Milwaukee has not swept a three-game series from Kansas City since April 22-24, 1994, when the Brewers still played in the American League.
The Royals (29-46) hit into four double plays in Saturday’s loss and have been outscored 30-14 during their current four-game losing streak.
Center fielder David DeJesus went 2-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .368 (14-for-38) with seven RBIs in his last nine games. But he was also tagged out without sliding on a double play in the first inning after thinking Mark Teahen walked - not realizing he struck out - drawing the ire of manager Buddy Bell.
“You’re going to have to ask them,” Bell said. “I don’t even want to know. We’re playing a hot team right now. You can’t afford to make mistakes like that against a good team.”
Odalis Perez (4-7, 6.06) hopes to win consecutive starts for the first time since defeating the Minnesota Twins on April 20 and 25. After getting no offensive help in losing his previous two outings, Perez limited the St. Louis Cardinals to three runs in six innings of a 5-3 victory Monday.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Brewers - all in Milwaukee.