Prince Fielder hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Corey Hart's three-run double highlighted a four-run second inning as the Brewers beat up on Angels starter Ervin Santana and moved to within a Wednesday win of a three-game sweep. In the first two games, the Brewers have outscored the Angels, 19-3.
"The pitching dictates what goes on, it really does," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "We've played crisp baseball, but it all comes down to getting the pitching. I really think the pitching is going to get better as we move on."
It was Bush's turn on Tuesday. He allowed only one run on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing since April 23 of last season, when he worked to within four outs of a no-hitter at Philadelphia. Bush (2-5) didn't walk an Angels batter and struck out one for his first win since April 20.
He made nine starts and one relief appearance between wins.
"It had been awhile," Bush said. "It's tough. I've had some decent outings in the interim, but it's hard to feel completely satisfied unless we win. It's been a tough stretch. It's been frustrating, but I try to keep plugging along. You try not to focus on it too much, but it's hard to avoid."
He avoided it on Tuesday. Macha made sure to credit rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy for his role in the outing, and also pointed out that Bush's ERA (4.67 after Tuesday's win) is inflated by one blow-up game on May 21 at Minnesota, when Bush surrendered seven runs and recorded only one out. Take that outing away, and his ERA for the season is a respectable 3.80.
Still, wins had eluded him.
"I definitely feel good about the result," Bush said. "I threw a lot of strikes, used my fastball down in the zone and got a lot of ground-ball outs, especially in the first five or six innings."
Indeed, 13 of Bush's 18 outs in the first six innings came on grounders. He stranded Howard Kendrick at third base in the first inning and then didn't allow another runner past first until the seventh, when Torii Hunter reached second base on a soft ground ball to the hole between first and second base that was scored an infield hit and a throwing error. Hunter promptly made the first out of the inning at third base when Lucroy caught him stealing.
The Angels broke through in the eighth inning on Maicer Izturis' RBI double. That prompted a call to reliever Kameron Loe, who finished the eighth inning. John Axford pitched a scoreless ninth.
"I kind of wore down the last couple innings and the ball started getting up," Bush said. "But I was still throwing strikes. It was nice to pitch with a lead like that. It gave me the luxury of throwing a lot of strikes early and letting them put it in play."
Fielder and Hart led the offensive charge against Santana (6-5), who was charged with a season-high six runs and matched a season high in allowing 10 hits, but did manage to pitch through the end of the fifth inning.
Fielder's opposite-field home run in the first inning drove home Ryan Braun for Fielder's first RBI on something other than a solo home run since May 19, a drought of 24 games and 108 plate appearances. Hart broke the game open in the second inning, when the Brewers touched Santana for four runs and five hits before making their second out. With 47 RBIs, Hart pulled into a tie with Casey McGehee for the team lead, one shy of Hart's total in 419 at-bats in all of 2009.
"It's encouraging that we're making a run, we're coming back," Hart said. "We're playing better baseball the last couple of weeks. Things are coming together. Our pitching and hitting is on the same page right now, and it hasn't been that way all year. It's pretty encouraging."
The Angels, who entered the series on a roll after a sweep of the crosstown Dodgers, now find themselves a game away from losing three in a row. The series finale is Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. CT.
"Bush really wasn't doing anything fancy out there, he just changed speeds and pitched," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys made plays behind him. We certainly couldn't rally any momentum, back some hits up and try to get some things going. We'll turn the page ...
"Those guys have a lineup in the middle that can certainly let you know if you're missing your spots. They let us know yesterday with Joe [Saunders] and tonight with Ervin."