The Nationals have recently done an excellent job of getting off to good starts on road trips against first place teams.
Two weeks ago, after winning a series in San Diego, the Nationals took on a then 42-21 San Francisco team and won three straight games.
This week, facing a 47-30 Milwaukee team, the Nationals won the first two games of the series and held the Brewers to two runs in those games.
On Tuesday night, the Nationals won what felt like one of their more significant gut-check games of the season, going 16 innings to subdue the Brewers on a Ryan Zimmerman two-run shot to win it 4-2.
It marked only the second time this season the Nationals had won a game in extra innings in what turned out to be the longest game in the Nationals’ young history.
In a Wednesday matinee, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg got the call to go for the sweep.
In the second, the Nationals got on the board following an Adam LaRoche walk against Marco Estrada. At third with one out, LaRoche came in on a Nate McLouth fielder’s choice. The throw home by Lyle Overbay was late and LaRoche slid under the tag of catcher Martin Maldonado. The Nationals lead 1-0.
Update: In the bottom of the second, the Brewers loaded the bases with one out.
Scooter Gennett crushed a grand slam to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead. Gennett hit a 2-1 fastball for his fifth homer of the season, which he slammed to deep right-center field. It was Gennett’s first career grand slam.
Update II: Another walk turned into a run for the Nationals. In the fourth, Zimmerman was issued a free pass. Later standing at second base, Ian Desmond hit his 10th double of the season and Zimmerman came around to score, cutting the Brewers lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, Khris Davis got that run back with a center-cut fastball from Strasburg he launched to deep left-center to give the Brewers a 5-2 lead. That’s No. 14 on the season for Davis.
Update III: In the fifth with the bases loaded, Davis smacked a two-run single that chased Strasburg and increased the Brewers’ lead to 7-2.
Strasburg went 4 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits, seven runs, all earned, two homers, three walks and only two strikeouts. Strasburg threw 90 pitches, 58 for strikes.
Right-hander Taylor Hill, who was just called up today, came on for Strasburg to make his major league debut. Hill got Elian Herrera to line out to second to end the inning.
Update IV: Gennett and Carlos Gomez each recorded an RBI single in the sixth, increasing the Brewers’ lead to 9-2.
Hill has allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings so far.
Update V: The Nats couldn’t complete the sweep in Milwaukee, falling 9-2 to the Brewers. That snaps a four-game winning streak for Washington, which slips to 41-36 on the year. No matter what happens with the Braves tonight, the Nats will remain in first place.
Hill finished with two earned runs on five walks in 3 1/3 innings in his debut. He walked one and struck out one.
Strasburg’s rough outing sunk him to 6-6 while former Nats draft pick Marco Estrada improved to 7-4 by allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
There were some tense moments after the eighth when Desmond took exception from a hard slide from Gomez, who was trying to break up a double play at second base. Benches cleared and some harsh language was exchanged between Gomez and Desmond. But the situation was diffused without tempers flaring further.
Now the Nats head to Chicago, where they’ll open a four-game series against the Cubs tomorrow.