The Washington Nationals held on to a share of the best record in baseball, taking three of four over the weekend from the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Nats are tied with the Cincinnati Reds, winners of their last ten games, at 61-40 for the best record in the majors.
The Nats also maintained their four-game lead in the N.L. East over the Atlanta Braves, though the Braves swept division-rival Philadelphia in a three-game set in Atlanta.
The Nationals have an off day Monday before tangling with the Phillies for a three-game midweek series at Nats Park.
Sunday: The Nats and Brewers hooked up in a wild game for the finale of the series. Washington trailed 5-2 going into the seventh inning and 7-3 into the eighth. But as they have all year, the Nats showed resiliency in tying the game in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra-innings. Eventually, the Nats took an 11th inning lead an held on for an exciting, or excruciating, 11-10 win.
Michael Morse (2-for-4, four RBIs) was the hero in this one. His two-run homer down the right field line pushed the game into extra-innings and his two-run double in the 11th provided the winning margin. Steve Lombardozzi lead the game off with a solo home run and Roger Bernadina continued his hot streak, homering in the eighth off reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
Gio Gonzalez had a rough day, allowing five runs (four earned) on dive hits and five walks in six innings, striking out four. He fought the small strike zone of home plate umpire Mike Estabrook all day long. Ryan Mattheus gave up three home runs in his 1 1/3 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits. Craig Stammen though was masterful, striking out four in 2 1/3 and Tyler Clippard held on for his 20th save of the season despite allowing a solo home run to Corey Hart in the 11th.
Saturday: Jordan Zimmermann extended his season-long streak of six-plus inning starts in another dominating performance to lead the Nats to a 4-1 victory over the Brewers. Zimmermann allowed just one run on five hits and one walk in six innings, striking out six, to up his personal record to 8-6 and lower his ERA to a paltry 2.28.
In July, the righty went 5-1 in six starts with a 0.97 ERA and 0.837 WHIP in 37.0 innings. He gave up just 27 hits and four walk in the month, while holding batters to a .205/.226/.273 slash line.
Zimmermann was backed by home runs from Ryan Zimmerman (15), Tyler Moore (6) and Corey Brown, who homered for his first big league hit.
Drew Storen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard (19th save) struck out three while allowing just one base runner in three innings to hold onto Zimmermann’s victory.
Friday: Milwaukee roughed up Nats No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler, getting to the lanky lefty for four runs in just 4 2/3 innings, en route to a 6-0 blanking of the Nats. Brewers rookie starter Mike Fiers was strong, shutting the Nats out over 6 2/3, allowing just four hits and three walks, striking out nine in the process.
Detwiler gave up seven hits and a walk in his shortest starting performance of the season. He struck out five, but also gave up a homer to Corey Hart and three doubles. Craig Stammen relieved Detwiler and coughed up a homer to Aramis Ramirez (12) before settling down.
The Nats couldn’t get any offense going against Fiers or two relievers, including 1 2/3 shutout innings from former Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez.
Thursday: The Nats kicked off the four-game series in style, pounding the Brewers 8-2 in the series opener. Edwin Jackson (W, 6-6, 3.52) stifled the Brew Crew, shutting them out over seven innings. The righty gave up eight hits and a walk, striking our four.
Adam LaRoche homered (19) and drove in two, while Michael Morse went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Steve Lombardozzi had the big hit, a three-run triple in the second inning that put the Nats up for good.