MILWAUKEE — Looking to stay in the playoff race, the Milwaukee Brewers will turn to a rookie starting pitcher against one of baseball’s top offenses for the second straight game.
After Brandon Woodruff limited the Washington Nationals to one run over seven innings Saturday, Brent Suter will take the mound in the finale of a four-game series Sunday at Miller Park.
The Nationals rallied against the Brewers’ bullpen to pull out a 3-2 victory Saturday, sending Milwaukee to a season-worst 4 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.
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Milwaukee won the first two games of the series to move to within 1 1/2 games of Colorado for the second wild-card spot, and it stayed that way after the Rockies lost to Arizona 6-2 on Saturday.
How long Suter is able to go Sunday is up in the air. The left-hander was activated from the disabled list Friday. He was placed on the DL on Aug. 3 with a left rotator cuff strain and threw only three innings in a rehabilitation start for Class A Wisconsin on Wednesday.
“He’s pitched once in the last couple of weeks,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re not going to get deep into the game with him. We’re just read the situation, see where he is at and go from there.
“I don’t know who the second pitcher is going to be. It is going to be a bullpen day. It is September. We have a lot of options out there. It depends what we get out of Brent.”
Suter, who is taking the rotation spot of the struggling Matt Garza, is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in nine starts this season for the Brewers. He has not faced Washington in his career.
The Nationals counter with right-hander Edwin Jackson, who is 5-3 with a 2.94 ERA in eight starts for Washington since signing as a free agent in June.
Jackson is 6-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 outings (16 starts) in his career against the Brewers, including allowing seven runs (three earned) over five innings in an 8-0 loss Juy 25.
The veteran has been a revelation for Washington, Jackson’s 13th big league team in his 15-year career.
Jackson will face a Brewers’ offense that has been struggling to score runs, but Counsell has seen positive signs of late.
“We’ve faced some pretty decent pitching over the past week,” Counsell said. “You can write the names down. It is some pretty decent pitching. It is the games you expect to play.
“What’s great is we are matching that pitching-wise. That’s how you have to win some of these games against these guys. Our pitching has been up to the task. That’s what is kind of exciting to me is that you can win games like that.”
While the Brewers are fighting for survival, the Nationals are on cruise control, leading the National League East by 15 games.
Washington secured its sixth straight winning season with a win Saturday. The franchise did not have a winning season prior to this stretch since moving to Washington D.C. in 2005.