With the Brewers' pitching staff still mostly intact after the team's rash of early-season injuries, Hart figures more runs could equal more wins. And the wins have been coming a bit more freely of late.
Friday's victory was the Brewers' eighth in their last 11 games and gave manager Ron Roenicke & Co. their first three-game winning streak at Miller Park. For the first time, these 2012 Brewers have looked something like the ones who went a Major League-best 57-24 at home in 2011 on their way to a franchise-record 96 regular-season wins.
This year's club is now 15-16 at Miller Park and 27-31 overall, back to within four games of .500 for the first time since May 15.
"We're not too far out of this thing," said right-hander Shaun Marcum, who won his third straight start. "The No. 1 goal is obviously to get back to .500."
Hart pushed the Brewers a bit closer after reclaiming the leadoff spot from Norichika Aoki, the Major League rookie who hit a pair of homers in Thursday's series finale against the Cubs, including a walk-off shot in the bottom of the 10th inning. Hart did his best impression, hitting Padres starter Edinson Volquez's third pitch for a leadoff home run, and adding a solo shot off Volquez in the fifth.
Maldonado's three-run blast in the fourth inning was the second homer of his career and his second on the homestand, and he nearly went deep again in the sixth only to see a long drive hook foul. Green added a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the seventh inning for insurance.
Prince Fielder's former team can still slug. The Brewers are second among National League clubs with 69 home runs.
"We've got guys who can hit the ball out of the park," Hart said. "That's kind of our thing."
The Padres hit two home runs of their own against Brewers starter Marcum, though only one cleared the fence. Shortstop and No. 8 hitter Everth Cabrera hit an inside-the-park homer in the sixth inning that might have just been a single had it not skipped past a diving Carlos Gomez and bounced all the way to the center-field wall.
Cameron Maybin added a more conventional homer in the sixth, after the Brewers had opened a lead.
Things were much different when Marcum and Volquez matched up in the heavy air at PETCO Park on May 1, when each right-hander worked seven scoreless innings and combined to surrender six hits in a game decided on Mark Kotsay's pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning.
In Friday's rematch, Marcum and Volquez each
surrendered six hits. Marcum was out of the game charged with three runs in 5 2/3 innings and Volquez was out after allowing a season-high six runs in six innings.
Volquez was particularly upset about his execution of the fastball that became Maldonado's three-run homer.
"The ball carries everywhere, and I threw a mistake and that was the whole game," Volquez said. "That's part of the game when you make a mistake in this kind of ballpark. You gotta pay for it."
Marcum is in his second season pitching half his games at Miller Park, and knows the feeling.
"The ball just flies out of this ballpark on certain days," Marcum said. "Pop flies can get out at any time. When you're pitching in San Diego, you can throw stuff down the middle and let them hit it as hard as they can, and there's times when it's not going to go out. It's definitely a different type of ballpark, and we were able to use it to our advantage on some, and able to come out on top."
Marcum has been the Brewers' second-best starting pitcher to Zack Greinke, and Roenicke has been pushing him deeper into starts than ever before. He threw a career-high 119 pitches against the Dodgers on May 28; followed with 112 pitches in a win against the Pirates on Saturday, tying the seventh-highest output of his career; and threw 115 more pitches on Friday, his third-most.
The toughest inning for Marcum was the fourth, a long slog that came after he shattered his bat smashing it into the turf near home plate after failing to put down a bunt in the bottom of the third. Marcum faced seven Padres in the inning and allowed two hits and two walks, including a pass to Cabrera that came with the bases loaded and tied the game at 1.
Marcum was visibly upset when the half-inning was finally over.
He was upset with "everything," Marcum said. "Mechanics, walking people, mostly. The ball was getting away from me. When you walk guys and put guys on base, that three-run homer becomes a lot easier to hit."
He avoided it on Friday, escaping further damage in the fourth inning and, after the Brewers had reclaimed a 6-1 lead, limiting the Padres to only one more run in the sixth, when reliever Kameron Loe recorded the final out to strand a runner.
"I've had a good feeling about [the team] all along," he said. "It's a matter of us playing consistent baseball."