MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have reached Labor Day within one-half game of a postseason berth thanks to a 7-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday at Miller Park on what amounted to a bullpen day. On the heels of a series victory at Dodger Stadium and a two-game split with
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have reached Labor Day within one-half game of a postseason berth thanks to a 7-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday at Miller Park on what amounted to a bullpen day. On the heels of a series victory at Dodger Stadium and a two-game split with the Cardinals at home, winning three of four from postseason-bound Washington left manager Craig Counsell's club brimming with confidence.
Counsell knows that won't be enough to get to the finish line.
"They don't need confidence. We need wins, you know?" he said. "To keep winning games, you feel like you're holding serve. That's what's important, and that's where the confidence comes from.
"I keep saying this, but we're chasing, and when you're chasing, the pressure is on to win. You feel like you take three out of four on a homestand from a good team, you did your job."
Domingo Santana homered twice as the Brewers won for the sixth time in eight games and pulled within a half game of the Rockies in the chase for the second National League Wild Card after Colorado was swept by Arizona. The Brewers also moved within 3 1/2 games of the National League Central-leading Cubs, whose six-game winning streak ended against the Braves.
Brewers starter Brent Suter made the most of a limited pitch count in his first start off the 10-day disabled list, logging three scoreless innings on 43 pitches. He was followed by scoreless relief from Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes and Anthony Swarzak before Washington's Ryan Zimmerman hit his 30th homer in the ninth off Junior Guerra.
The three hits matched the fewest allowed by the Brewers in a game all year, matching their effort in Friday's 1-0 win over the Nationals. Washington scored eight total runs in the four-game series.
"[The Brewers] have got some good arms," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "They've got some real good arms. They were effectively wild. And like you saw today, their bullpen, everybody came out of the bullpen throwing some gas. A lot of it was up, and a lot of the breaking balls were down. They pitched us tough this series."
Nationals starter Edwin Jackson lost to the Brewers for the second time after allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered 12 runs (seven earned) in two games against the Brewers this season, but has pitched to a 2.11 ERA in his other seven starts for Washington.
"It's tough when you give up five hits and they're all extra bases," Jackson said. "I was able to make pitches here and there, but inevitably I was killed by the two home runs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Domingo on Domingo: Santana continued his habit of homering on Domingo -- Sunday in Spanish -- with blasts in his first two-at-bats against Jackson for three RBIs. Santana's two-run homer in the Brewers' three-run fourth inning gave him his second multi-homer game this season (the first was also on a Sunday, naturally) and meant nine of Santana's 24 home runs have come on Sundays. Santana trails only George Springer, who went deep in Houston's win over the Mets and leads Major League Baseball with 10 Sunday shots. More >
Keep the line moving: The Brewers have not hit much since the All-Star break, but the pitching continues to keep them in the race. On Sunday, that meant a team effort behind Suter starting with Jeffress, the former Brewers closer who came back to the team in a July 31 trade with Texas. He was rewarded with a win after facing the minimum six batters in two innings off scoreless relief, lowering Jeffress' ERA to 3.00 in 11 Brewers appearances since the trade.
"I thought JJ's two innings were the big key to the whole thing," Counsell said. "Him getting those two innings were important."
"We knew Suter was coming back off his rehab and he was limited in pitches, so we were told to be ready before the game," Jeffress said. "I was going to go."
"There's a positive energy going. Just watching the other guys have success against a lineup helps you learn what to do with hitters. There are all positives going on with the rotation right now. We've been playing good baseball. We need to keep it going here." -- Suter, on the team's recent play
"We've gone through some times where were scoring 8-9 runs a night and that's great and fun and then you go through times where it feels like it takes everything you have to score 1-2 runs. You just have to keep grinding through it." -- Zimmerman, on the Nats' recent offensive funk
Nationals: The Nationals head to Miami for the start of a three-game series with the Marlins beginning Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Washington will call up right-hander A.J. Cole to make the start.
Brewers:Chase Anderson will be on the mound Monday in Cincinnati for a 12:10 p.m. CT Labor Day game against the Reds. It's a return to the scene of the crime for Anderson, who suffered a strained left oblique swinging the bat at Great American Ball Park and spent the next seven weeks on the disabled list.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.