MILWAUKEE -- Tyler Saladino delivered the walk-off blow on Tuesday, but it was Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich who set it up.
When the Brewers have won this season, the Cain & Yelich duo is often behind it.
In a 5-4, 10-inning win over the Nationals at Miller Park, Cain tallied a season-high four hits, including a game-tying single, and Yelich stayed scorching hot with three hits, including a two-run home run. Their successive singles against Washington sinkerballer Matt Grace leading off the 10th started the rally that led to Saladino's sacrifice fly to left field, which sent Cain sprinting home for Milwaukee's seventh walk-off win of the season.
"He better have scored on that," joked Yelich. "He's been talking about how he has this gear when he really needs it, and I guess tonight is when he decided to put it in gear and show it off. I'm glad he did. It came as a great time for us."
With the Cubs losing at home to the D-backs, the Brewers are now within 1 1/2 games in the National League Central with a chance to sweep the three-game series against the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon.
That, after Milwaukee entered the series having lost eight of its previous nine games.
"We've definitely been scuffling as a team, and it's kind of a team slump type of deal right now," Cain said. "Definitely a big win."
Saladino's game-winning fly ball over a five-man Washington infield with one out and the bases loaded flew just 257 feet, according to Statcast™, to left fielder Juan Soto. Cain's sprint speed home topped out at 30.1 feet per second. (Above 30 feet per second is considered elite.)
"Honestly, it didn't matter if it was deep enough, shallow. I was going regardless," Cain said. "I was going to make him throw me out. Fortunately, he made a wide throw and I was able to score easy."
The Brewers had to claw back from a 4-0 deficit after Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra came off the disabled list and fell into an early hole. But following Adam Eaton's three-run home run in the second inning, Guerra teamed with five relievers to hold Washington scoreless the rest of the way.
All of Washington's runs in the second inning were unearned because of Guerra's own throwing error on Michael A. Taylor's leadoff bunt back to the mound. But the right-hander settled in after the Eaton blast, pitching through the end of the sixth inning without yielding further runs while Milwaukee mounted a comeback at the plate.
"I was proud of how we pitched tonight," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The error cost [Guerra] big-time there, but he came back and put up some zeros, and our bullpen did a great job."
Guerra played a role in the comeback with a pair of doubles, snapping an 0-for-40 skid that dated back two years. His second double led off the Brewers' three-run fifth inning, which continued with Eric Thames' run-scoring groundout and Yelich's two-run home run.
Two innings later, Cain tied the game with a single up the middle to cash in on Ryan Braun's pinch-hit double.
"This was a big win for us tonight," Yelich said. "That's the kind of win we've been getting this year, right there. A classic, hard-fought win. Chip away and find a way to win. That's what we've done a really good job of this year, and it was nice to see that come back."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Yelich stays hot: Including his three hits on Tuesday, Yelich has hit safely in eight straight games (17-for-33, .515) and 13 of his last 14 games (26-for-61, .426), and that doesn't even include his home run in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. His fifth-inning two-run homer off Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson nearly reached the truck perched above the right-center-field concourse; the truck goes to one lucky fan if a Brewers player strikes it on the fly with a home run. It cut the deficit to 4-3.
"If it's another guy, he'll just roll over," said Hellickson, "but [Yelich] doesn't miss too many mistakes."
Said Yelich: "It came in a good spot for us. … We got down early, and you're just doing anything you can. You don't have to get it back all at once. You get close and put yourself in a position to tie it then hopefully win it, and that's what we were able to do."
The light-hitting Guerra was a surprising pick to become the first Brewers pitcher in nearly a decade to collect multiple extra-base hits in a game. Only two other Milwaukee hurlers had done it: Manny Parra on Sept. 2, 2008, against the Mets and Steve Woodard on May 27, 1998, against the Pirates.
The Brewers will recall right-hander Freddy Peralta from a temporary assignment to Class A Wisconsin for Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Nats. Peralta, who was sent to the Minors after his final start before the All-Star break so Milwaukee could call up an extra bullpen arm, has a 2.65 ERA and 50 strikeouts in his first 37 1/3 Major League innings. Tanner Roark will start for Washington.