Ryan Braun hitting his marks

St. Louis - The Milwaukee Brewers have never had a batting champion but they have their best chance in a long time with Ryan Braun.

The all-star leftfielder took over the lead for the National League batting title Sunday, moving up to .335 to pass New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (.333). He stayed at .335 after a 2-for-5 game in the 4-1 victory over St. Louis.

Braun loves a challenge, so dangling a carrot that close could lead to big things.

"That kind of stuff motivates him," said Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. "He's very goal-oriented. When he sees an achievement like that, don't put it past him. A couple of years ago he needed a whole bunch of hits the last week to get to 200 and he did it.

"He can go on a tear with the best of them."

Braun and first baseman Prince Fielder are having tremendous seasons, with Fielder entering play Monday as the NL leader with 107 RBI. A national debate already has started about which player is the leading candidate for league most valuable player.

"There's no wrong answer to that," said Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart. "They could definitely finish 1-2. I don't know which way you go but I could see them being the top two. Either way you go, nobody could argue.

"That's going to help us as a team because they'll keep pushing. They're very competitive. They fight for each other but they compete with each other, too.

" 'Braunie' has put himself in good position (for the batting title). And he's one of those guys who's never satisfied. The pressure never gets to him. He always seems to rise to the occasion.

"I don't think he came into the year thinking about winning the batting title but as soon as it's in front of him, that motivates him even more. I don't think he's going to let it get way from him."

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