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Hardy rides slide down lineup

Hardy rides slide down lineup

CLEVELAND -- Slumping Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy tumbled six spots in the batting order Monday, but he wasn't throwing any clubhouse tantrums.

"I would have done it, too," Hardy said. "I actually like it. When I can't get on base, then it's the right move."

An All-Star two years ago, Hardy entered the Brewers' Interleague series against the Indians hitless in his past 28 at-bats and six for his last 58 (.103), a slump that had driven his season average down to .207. Hardy had a similar slide earlier this year, going 1-for-23 -- including 0-for-14 -- before he singled and scored the winning run in a 4-3 win over Arizona on May 3.

Then, manager Ken Macha gave him two days off. This time, he wanted Hardy to hit his way out of it.

Perhaps that's just what Hardy did in the Brewers' wild, 14-12 win over the Indians. He went hitless in his first two at-bats to extend his slump to 0-for-30 before snapping it with a single leading off the sixth. Hardy later scored on Craig Counsell's sacrifice fly.

"He'll be fine. He's our shortstop," Macha said. "He's got to work his way out of that. He's a vital part of our team.

One hit seemed to shake Hardy loose last time he slumped. After his May 3 single against Arizona, Hardy batted .308 with nine extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 17 walks over his next 25 games.

Then came his current funk.

"It's not about me, it's about the team, and I'm not blind," Hardy said. "I can see that I'm not getting any hits. ... It's all about confidence, and it's tough to have confidence when you're not getting hits."

The shortstop has come close lately. Hardy hit four flyouts to the warning track during the final four games of the Brewers' just-completed homestand, and he was robbed of a hit in the first inning Sunday by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

With Hardy down low in the order, Macha batted Casey McGehee in the two-hole after McGehee went 9-for-16 (.563) on the homestand -- including ripping his first career home run Sunday. Macha also swapped Corey Hart (7-for-19 on the homestand) with Mike Cameron (1-for-19) in the fifth and sixth spots.

Hart should give Hardy a bit of hope. The Brewers' right fielder was in a 4-for-30 slump as recently as Friday, when he drove in three runs in a win over the White Sox. Hart entered play Monday night on a five-game hitting streak, batting .438 (7-for-16) in that span.

"When you're in a slump," Hart said, "it always comes down to confidence."

He's feeling confident of late.

"I feel like I've got a pretty good chance right now when I'm up there, and as a player, that's all you want," Hart said. "It's one of those things that comes and goes. Right now, I've got it, so I'm trying to ride with it."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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