Santana’s 2 HRs carry Brewers past Nationals
MILWAUKEE — Domingo Santana is proving his first name is not the only thing that translates to Sunday.
Santana continued to hit the ball well on Sundays by blasting two homers and driving in three runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a series win over the Washington Nationals with a 7-2 victory Sunday afternoon.
Milwaukee bounced back from letting a late-inning lead slip away Saturday to take three of four from National League East-leading Washington and moved to 3 1/2 games back of Chicago in the NL Central and to just one-half game behind Colorado for the second wild card.
The Brewers planned for Sunday to be a bullpen day after skipping the turn of struggling starter Matt Garza.
Brent Suter started and pitched three scoreless innings. Jeremy Jeffress (2-0) and Jacob Barnes each tossed two innings before giving way to Anthony Swarzak and Junior Guerra for the eighth and ninth.
“I think Brent, JJ and Jacob Barnes did a heck of a job getting us through those first seven innings,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “On a bullpen day like that you’re going to have to be pretty flexible with what’s going on, but where everything happened, I think it worked out pretty well.”
Santana put the Brewers on the board with a solo home run off Nationals starter Edwin Jackson (5-4) in the second inning.
After Neil Walker and Ryan Braun hit consecutive doubles in the fourth to make it 2-0, Santana blasted a two-run shot to increase Milwaukee’s lead to 4-0.
“I was able to make some pitches here and there but I was killed by the two home runs,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day it’s not necessarily who the player is, it’s execution.”
Santana now has nine home runs on Sundays this season, matching Giancarlo Stanton, Nelson Cruz and George Springer for the most in baseball. He is now hitting .306 with 14 home runs during day games.
“It is a grind when you wake up after a night game,” Santana said. “You wake up and have to play a ballgame during the day. I’m so glad I’m getting a lot of hits.
“I just try to go up there and keep everything simple to help the team win as much as I can.”
The Brewers added a run in the sixth after Walker led off with a double, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Shaw.
Milwaukee increased its lead to 7-0 in the eighth against Nationals reliever Austin Adams with runs scoring on a passed ball by catcher Raudy Read and a sacrifice fly hit by Manny Pina.
Ryan Zimmerman ended the shutout with a two-run homer off Guerra in the ninth, his 30th home run of the season.
Jackson lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) and five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Brewers’ pitching allowed eight runs in the four games against Washington. Milwaukee won by four or more runs for just the third time since the All-Star break and by five runs or more for the first time since July 25.
“Some of the guys are a little worn,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said “Concentration is off some. 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. You can tell by the guys’ focus and concentration.
“We’ll get through this streak. We have seven more games to go and then we’ll get a break.”
NOTES: Brewers C Manny Pina returned to the lineup after being unable to start the previous four games because of a hip injury. ... Nationals C Matt Wieters was out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game after taking a foul ball off the right knee Thursday. ... With two home runs, Domingo Santana tied Giancarlo Stanton, Nelson Cruz and George Springer for the most home runs on Sundays with nine. ... Brewers 2B Neil Walker doubled twice to reach 200 doubles for his career. ... Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to eight games with an infield single in the first inning. ... Nationals C Raudy Read made his major league debut with a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning. ... Washington lost its first four-game series since May 5-8 against the Cubs.