Hamilton and Cruz pitched right in, with both players hitting home runs in support of Alexi Ogando's five-hit shutout, the first of his major league career. Ogando improved to 5-0 with the effort, and the Rangers maintained their slim lead in the tightly-packed division where all four teams are separated by just three games.
A first-year starter, Ogando has given the Rangers a boost in the pitching department. After going 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 innings last season - all in relief - Ogando replaced injured Tommy Hunter in the rotation and has delivered, compiling his perfect record along with a stunning 1.81 ERA and WHIP of 0.87. He struck out six and walked three in the 4-0 win.
With their 11-3 home win over the Nationals, they've now won four straight and have caught the Reds for second place in the NL Central. Both teams trail St. Louis by 3 1/2 games, but the Brewers seem to be headed in the right direction.
Monday's win featured the usual performance by ace hurler Yovani Galardo, who cruised through seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits while fanning nine. The unusual came off the bat of Corey Hart, who went 3-for-5, all of his hits being of the over-the-fence variety, and drove in seven runs.
What made Hart's feat even more sensational, was the fact that he hadn't homered since September 28th of last season. And it's not like he doesn't hit homers with regularity; he smashed 31 dingers in 2010 and has averaged 25 per year since 2007.
With Hart heating up in the #2 hole, the Brewers are already on a roll that may take them to the top of the division before long.