WASHINGTON -- The Nationals finally know what home-field advantage is all about as they pounded the Brewers, 9-5, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon. Washington took two out of three games from Milwaukee to win its first home series since July 20-22 against the Mets.
The Nationals got off to a slow start, when Jonathan Lucroy gave Milwaukee a 2-0 first-inning lead with a two-run homer off right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. But Brewers right-hander Matt Garza couldn't hold on to the lead as the Nationals scored four runs in the third, highlighted by Danny Espinosa's three-run double, and again in the fifth, capped by Anthony Rendon's three-run homer. Garza was charged with seven runs over 4 2/3 to fall to 6-14.
With the victory, the Nationals are over the .500 mark with a 62-61 record, while the Brewers lost their 71st game of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fumble extends Nats' big inning: Garza struck out the first two batters he faced in the third inning before a walk, Bryce Harper's shift-beating double and another walk loaded the bases for Ian Desmond, who hit a high chopper off home plate to Garza, whose issues throwing to the bases are well-known. Garza fumbled the play, which was ruled an RBI infield hit for Desmond, and Espinosa cashed in by hitting a three-run double that struck mere feet from the top of the right-center-field wall. The two-out, four-run rally gave Washington a 5-2 lead.
"I don't know how I could have made that play," Garza said. "It was so high. The only thing I could think of was maybe try to swat it like a volleyball player. … Those types of balls, they always find me in this yard."More >
Espinosa, Rendon lead the charge: Espinosa and Rendon drove in three runs apiece as the Nationals banged out nine hits to go along with eight walks. Espinosa had the biggest hit in the four-run third inning with a three-run double off Garza, while Rendon hit a three-run homer off Corey Knebel during a four-run fifth.
"Guys all over the basepaths is what we want, and we'll have our opportunities to drive those guys in," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. More >
Zimmermann has OK outing: Zimmermann threw 116 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. But he still picked up his 10th victory, marking the fourth consecutive season Zimmermann has won 10 or more games.
"I didn't have my best stuff," Zimmermann said. "They punched me in the mouth in the first. I kind of woke up after that. I was going OK for a few innings. … They made me battle. I threw a lot of pitches. Obviously, the pitch count was way higher than I wanted it to be."
Lucroy launch: Lucroy, who finished fourth in National League MVP balloting last season, reacted with good-natured indignation this weekend when it was pointed out he had fewer home runs than Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Lucroy took care of that anomaly in the top of the first inning Sunday by connecting for a two-run home run off Zimmermann. Lucroy and Bumgarner are now tied with five homers.
"I want to contribute," Lucroy said. "That's all it is. Play up to my ability." More >
"It was good to get the series win. If we keep winning series, we'll be just fine. … As a whole lineup, I think we swung it pretty well and we scored some runs." -- Harper, who had a pair of doubles
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Khris Davis hit an eighth inning solo home run off Nationals reliever Drew Storen on -- surprise! -- the first pitch. Davis' last seven home runs have all come on the first pitch of at-bats, and he has an NL-leading nine home runs and 22 RBIs this month.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: After an off-day Monday, the Brewers return to action for the opener of a brief, two-game Interleague series in Cleveland on Tuesday night. Wily Peralta will start against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT.
Nationals: The Nationals have the day off Monday before starting a three-game series against the Padres on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five career starts against the Padres, will be on the mound. He faced the Padres earlier this season, yielding three runs over five innings in a win at Petco Park on May 17.