Brewers power past Nationals with big hitting, stellar pitching
MILWAUKEE -- With another big Sunday performance by Domingo Santana, the Milwaukee Brewers closed within a half-game of Colorado for the NL's second wild card.
Santana homered twice as Milwaukee beat Washington 7-2 to take three of four games from the Nationals.
Nine of Santana's 24 homers have been hit on Sundays. His first name is Sunday in Spanish.
"It is a grind when you wake up after a night game and have to play a ballgame during the day," he said. "I'm just so glad I'm getting a lot of hits."
Santana also walked twice and stole a base.
"He's been a real consistent player this year overall," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "He's certainly taken a big step forward. Day games seem to be a nice formula for him."
Milwaukee had been 6 games out in the wild-card race in mid-August.
"When you're chasing, the pressure is on to win," Counsell said. "You take three out of four on a homestand from a good team, you did your job."
Brewers starter Brent Suter, who had not pitched for Milwaukee since Aug. 12 because of left rotator cuff inflammation, allowed two hits in three scoreless innings and left after 43 pitches.
"I just felt in control out there. I'm really glad my arm has responded well," Suter said.
Jeremy Jeffress (2-0), Jacob Barnes and Anthony Swarzak combined for five hitless innings. Junior Guerra completed the three-hitter but gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth. Milwaukee's bullpen retired 16 consecutive hitters at one point.
Without injured star Bryce Harper since mid-August, the Nationals stumbled a bit following a four-game winning streak against the New York Mets and Miami, scoring only eight runs in the four games against the Brewers. The only team in the NL East above .500, Washington (82-54) maintained a 15-game lead over the second-place Marlins.
"Some of the guys are a little worn," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "You don't use it as an excuse but we are playing 21 games in 20 days. That's a lot this late in the season. But we've got to get our act together."
Edwin Jackson (5-4) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, dropping to 6-9 against the Brewers.
"I was able to make some pitches here and there but I was killed by the two home runs," Jackson said.
Santana hit a solo homer in the second, a 435-foot drive over Milwaukee's bullpen. The Brewers opened a 4-0 lead in the fourth on Ryan Braun's RBI double and Santana's two-run homer.
Travis Shaw hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Milwaukee increased the lead to 7-0 in the eighth on a based-loaded passed ball and Manny Pina's sacrifice fly.
Washington managed just 19 hits in the series and struck out 42 times.
The Nationals' Raudy Read made his major league debut in the eighth inning when he grounded out as a pinch hitter. He stayed in the game at catcher and was charged with a passed ball that allowed a run to score.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer reported lingering left leg soreness after being struck by a comebacker off in the first inning of Saturday night's games. "Max is doing fine," Baker said. "He's just a little sore, which is to be expected." . . . C Matt Wieters didn't start for the third consecutive game. Wieters, who took a foul ball off his knee on Thursday, entered Saturday night's game in the eighth inning.
Brewers: Pina, who had been dealing with hip discomfort, returned to the starting lineup behind the plate after missing four straight starts. . . . SS Orlando Arcia limped off the field after appearing to strike his lower right leg with his bat while swinging and striking out in the seventh inning. He remained in the game.
Nationals: A.J. Cole will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to start on Monday as Washington opens at three-game series at Miami.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (8-3) starts Monday at Cincinnati. He injured an oblique muscle while pitching against the Reds on June 28 and did not return until Aug. 20.