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08/21/08 11:19 PM ET

Gerut surprising San Diego

Outfielder owns team-high average along with hot August

PHOENIX -- Jody Gerut was brought into San Diego with a chance to revitalize his career, a career that was out of commission for the past two seasons due to a knee injury.

Gerut made the Padres' Opening Day roster, but it didn't look like he would be much more than a fourth outfielder -- with veterans like Brian Giles and Jim Edmonds already in the mix.

But when Edmonds was released in early May, Gerut was recalled from Triple-A Portland. Gerut has become more than just a solid replacement since then, and he has garnered a majority of his starts in center field while batting leadoff.

Gerut has been consistent all season for the Padres, but he has been raking opposing pitching in August. The 30-year-old is hitting a team-best .404 (21-for-52) since Aug. 3 to accompany six homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.122 on-base percentage entering play Thursday.

In Wednesday night's loss, Gerut smacked a 385-foot homer in the ninth inning, his seventh road shot since the All-Star break. Overall, Gerut entered play Thursday hitting a team-high .303 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs.

Gerut's splits are nearly equal against right-handers and left-handers -- he owns a .308 and .281 average, respectively.

Manager Bud Black said Gerut's offensive success hasn't surprised him this season, noting how well the outfielder played for the Indians before he injured his knee.

"I think it's a great story coming back to where he's been," Black said. "I think he's always had the talent. He had a great winter ball, and he just continued what he did this winter and what he was doing early in his career. He was sidelined with some knee problems, which got him off track, but he's capable of his play."

Black is also impressed by the ground Gerut has covered in the spacious outfield of PETCO Park, something his predecessor, Edmonds, struggled with in his short time with the Padres.

"I always thought [Gerut] was a good defender before," Black said. "I think he's played a good center field at our park. It's a spacious outfield. He has the ability to make all plays, going to his left, going to his right, coming in and going back, which is what you need in our park."

Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.