MILWAUKEE -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez had three doubles and five RBIs, and Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann was out of the game -- both before the end of the fourth inning of Milwaukee's 8-4 win over the Nationals on Friday night at Miller Park.
Zimmermann, the Nationals right-hander born and raised in Auburndale, Wis., entered the night 4-0 against his home-state team, having allowed only eight earned runs in 30 2/3 innings over five previous starts. This time, the Brewers got to him for six earned runs and nine hard hits in only 3 1/3 innings.
"I think he just wasn't sharp and we took advantage of it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Simple things. I thought Shane Peterson's at-bat in the first inning, it got [Zimmermann] up to 30 pitches in the first inning and he was up to 50 in the second inning. … We made him work every pitch he threw in every inning."
The result was the Brewers' sixth win in eight games and the Nationals' 11th loss in 14 games. Ramirez delivered run-scoring doubles in the first and third innings against Zimmermann and in the fourth against reliever Taylor Hill. Those runs backed Brewers starter Mike Fiers, who pitched a season-high seven innings and scattered three runs in Milwaukee's fifth consecutive quality start.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fiers' big pitch: It was a measure of the Brewers' respect for Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper -- who homered, drove in two runs and scored twice -- that so much was said about Fiers' striking out the slugger with a full-count curveball with two runners aboard in the sixth inning and the Brewers leading, 7-2. Five-run margin or not, Counsell said with a shrug, "That guy is scary."
"To me, [that] was the pitch of the game," Counsell said. "He's dangerous. [Fiers] made a great pitch when he had to make a great pitch. We talk about big moments and he took control of the big moment. He won the big moment tonight."
Short homecoming: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy knocked Zimmermann from the game in the fourth inning with a line-drive two-run double to left field, giving the Brewers a 5-2 lead. Zimmermann managed just 3 1/3 innings, his second shortest outing this season and second straight subpar start.
"They made me battle all night," Zimmermann said. "One of those nights where nothing was working for me." More >
Gennett's gem: The Nationals cut their deficit to 3-2 on Harper's RBI single in the fourth inning, but Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett prevented the rally from growing when he made the game's best defensive play against the next batter. Gennett dove to his backhand side to stop Wilson Ramos' grounder from rolling into center field and flipped the baseball with his glove to Jean Segura for an out at second base. More >
"At first I thought it was a hit, right off the bat, but he made a great play," Fiers said. "That's what we need, every night. Guys just playing hard, playing with their heart and getting a win."
Harper homers: Harper put the Nats on the board in the second inning with his 21st home run of the season. He entered Friday behind only Giancarlo Stanton (22) of the Marlins. Harper and Stanton are among 12 players in MLB history to hit at least 55 homers prior to their age-22 season. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brewers relievers hadn't allowed a run in five consecutive games before Harper motored from first to home on Ramos' double off Corey Knebel.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Nationals challenged a safe call when Zimmermann attempted to pick off Gerardo Parra at second base in the third inning. After a brief review, the ruling was overturned and Parra was out.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Right-hander Joe Ross will make his second Major League start on Saturday as the series continues against the Brewers. Ross will look to collect his first win, after pitching five innings of three-run ball against the Cubs last Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET.
Brewers:Carlos Gomez is expected back in center field when Jimmy Nelson takes the mound against the Nationals at 3:10 CT. Gomez has missed three straight starts with discomfort in his right hip.