MILWAUKEE -- Jimmy Nelson set a season high with 10 strikeouts and Domingo Santana smacked the Brewers' first grand slam of the season in a 9-5 win over the D-backs on Sunday at Miller Park.
By taking the final two games of the series, along with the Cubs and Cardinals losing Sunday, the 27-23 Brewers will wake up on Memorial Day in first place by 1 1/2 games in the National League Central.
"We know we have a good team and we still have a lot to prove," Santana said. "We still have a long way to go, and I think a lot of people still have a lot of things to prove here as a team, too. I think we're not where we want to be yet."
Santana's first career slam came in the fourth inning off D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin, who surrendered seven earned runs on a season-high 10 hits and owns a 9.00 ERA over his past five starts. Arizona has dropped back-to-back games for the first time in two weeks.
"I think the fastball command was a little inconsistent, the secondary stuff was a little inconsistent. It wasn't one of his best outings, which is unfortunate," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Corbin.
The Brewers, meanwhile, are back on track following a five-game losing streak thanks to a pair of stellar starting pitching performances. Nelson followed Chase Anderson's near no-hitter on Saturday with a Sunday gem, scattering seven hits over seven innings without a walk, holding Arizona to a lone run thanks in part to his second career double-digit strikeout performance.
"It all starts with us," Nelson said. "Getting the tempo set, filling [the strike zone] up, giving our offense a chance to get some runs, because you know they will."
Brewers catcher Manny Pina collected three hits in his return from a two-day absence and erstwhile leadoff man Jonathan Villar had two hits batting seventh, but the Brewers' biggest swing came from Santana. The right fielder scored three runs Sunday and owns a .345 (30-for-87) average with five home runs and 22 RBIs in his last 25 games after hitting .169 in his first 21 games this year.
His grand slam was the first for a Brewer at Miller Park since Ryan Braun's against the Phillies in August 2015.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED D-backs back in it: Nelson exited after seven innings with an 8-1 lead, but the D-backs didn't go away easily. They scored four runs in the eighth against relievers Oliver Drake and Carlos Torres and had two runners in scoring position following Daniel Descalso's two-out, run-scoring double when Brewers manager Craig Counsell called upon a third reliever, Jacob Barnes, to face a pinch-hitting Paul Goldschmidt. Barnes won the battle, inducing a lineout to center field that snapped Goldschmidt's streak of reaching safely against the Brewers at 25 games spanning five seasons. More >
"In that situation, where they kind of had the momentum going their way and they had scored a couple that inning, I think it was a big situation. I had to get probably their best hitter out," Barnes said.
Always hustle, kids: The Brewers loaded the bases with a Keon Broxton triple and two walks before Corbin recorded an out, but the left-hander nearly escaped when Travis Shaw popped out and Hernan Perez hit what looked like a double-play grounder to second base. But Perez managed to beat the Brandon Drury-to-Nick Ahmed-to-Descalso relay while a run scored, and Pina further added on with an RBI double for a 2-0 Brewers lead. Milwaukee has outscored opponents, 47-16, in the first inning this season.
"I didn't work ahead as I normally do and fell behind guys and just left some pitches up," Corbin said. "They took some good swings. It's tough when you throw 30 pitches or so in the first. You try to be sharp there later on, and I made some mistakes."
"They should be looking for a game tomorrow at 4 o'clock [ET] in New York. They should tune in for that. It is on to the next day. It is on to the next challenge for us." -- Counsell, asked what Brewers fans should be looking for now that the team has reached Memorial Day atop its division
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When Nelson logged strikeout No. 10 with a whiff of D-backs reliever T.J. McFarland in the seventh, he stranded a runner at second and made some Brewers history. Anderson and Nelson became the first Brewers pitchers since Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers in 2012 to log back-to-back double-digit strikeout games, and the first duo in Brewers history with consecutive games of seven-plus innings with 10-plus strikeouts and one or fewer earned runs.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs: The D-backs will continue their 11-game road trip with a three-game series in Pittsburgh, beginning at 1:05 p.m. MST on Monday. Randall Delgado will make his second start of the season in place of the injured Taijuan Walker, who is on the 10-day DL with a blister on his right index finger. Delgado pitched a season-high four innings, allowing one earned run on three hits in a win over the White Sox on Wednesday.
Brewers: The Brewers will hit the road for a four-game series against the Mets, beginning at 3:05 p.m. CT on Monday. Matt Garza will try to move on from his last start, where he allowed six earned runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays.