MILWAUKEE -- Gerardo Parra hit a tying home run in the seventh inning and Scooter Gennett punched a go-ahead single over third base in the eighth to lead the Brewers to their fourth straight series-opening win, a 6-5 triumph over the Nationals on Thursday night at Miller Park despite three hits from Washington leadoff man Denard Span.
It was Gennett's first game back in the Majors following a three-week demotion to Triple-A. He was hitless in his first three at-bats before grounding an opposite-field single with two outs in the eighth against Washington reliever Aaron Barrett, whose wild pitch on strike three to Aramis Ramirez leading off the inning put the Brewers in business. A throwing error charged to second baseman Anthony Rendon put the go-ahead run in scoring position for Gennett.
"Obviously it wasn't the hardest-hit ball in the world," Gennett said, "but it got the job done."
Parra's solo home run in the seventh inning off Nationals starter Tanner Roark capped the Brewers' comeback from a 5-1 deficit, and marked the third straight game in which Washington lost a lead in that frame.
"We should've came out with the win," Roark said. "That's on my shoulders for not keeping it there and letting them back in the game"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Robinson's first:Clint Robinson, starting for injured first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, made a case to keep the job with a towering solo shot to right field in the second inning. The home run the first of Robinson's big league career after racking up 141 in the Minors. Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier Thursday.
Steady again: After exiting Wednesday's game with dizziness caused by fluid buildup in his ear, Ryan Braun returned to the lineup and delivered his first triple of the season for a first-inning RBI, tying Jim Gantner for fourth in Brewers history with 38 career three-baggers. Braun also singled and scored in the fourth.
Garza gets through: Three of the Nationals' first five runs were unearned because of Brewers errors. Shortstop Jean Segura threw away Bryce Harper's cue-shot single for a run in the first inning, and more wild throws from center fielder Parra and third baseman Ramirez gave the visitors two more unearned runs in the fourth against Brewers starter Matt Garza, who was charged with only two earned runs in six effective innings.
"We gave them some runs in the fourth. but Matt came back with two good scoreless innings and then the bullpen was really good again," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We kept chipping away. It's great to see. Down four, that's a pretty good deficit. We kept chipping away and we got to them."
Nats' bats go quiet: After scoring five runs in the first four innings, the Nationals were able to collect just two hits over the final five frames. In fact, they managed just two baserunners before the ninth. Yunel Escobar walked in the seventh, but was cut down on a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to end the inning. Harper reached on a walk in the eighth before being picked off trying to steal second by Brewers reliever Will Smith.
"In the late innings, any mistake is magnified," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "We need to make sure that we're providing ourselves more opportunities to score runs late."
"We talked about confidence earlier in the day. It's a confidence boost as much as anything. Everybody needs a confidence boost. You need to have a little fortune once in a while." -- Counsell, on Gennett's welcome-back hit
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Counsell made the case before the game that starting pitching has fueled a recent surge for the Brewers, who have won five of their last seven games. But the relief corps has made those starts hold, posting a 0.41 ERA in the last 12 games to lead the Majors during that span.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Jordan Zimmermann, an Auburndale, Wis. native, will get the start for the Nationals on Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET in the second game of this four-game set. He's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts at Miller Park and boasts a career 2.35 ERA against his home-state Brewers.
Brewers:Mike Fiers makes his final start as a 20-something, beginning at 7:10 p.m. CT, as the series continues at Miller Park. Fiers, who turns 30 on Monday, owns a 2.78 ERA over his past six starts, with one one victory to show for those outings.