Nelson entered the game with just one hit in 11 at-bats this season but drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning with his second single of the game, leading the Brewers to an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
"This is the first time I've gotten two hits in a game since I was like 15," Nelson said.
In 89 career at-bats before Monday, he had just 10 hits, one walk and had struck out 50 times.
He singled to left in the third and, facing Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver (3-1) in the fifth, squared to bunt before pulling the bat back and smacking a single to right.
Nelson (4-2) was stellar on the mound, too. After allowing two hits in the first inning, he retired 15 of 16 batters before giving up a solo home run to Mike Trout in the sixth.
He allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings.
"Last year, in his first full year, there were lots of learning experiences. I really think he's taken a step forward in a lot of ways," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
As for Nelson's hitting: "He's become somebody that can help himself during games," Counsell said.
Ryan Braun reached base four times as the Brewers ended an eight-game home losing streak to the Angels, the last win coming in May 1997 at County Stadium. Milwaukee had lost six straight to the Angels at Miller Park.
With two outs, Weaver intentionally walked Braun, but the strategy backfired when Jonathan Lucroy doubled to drive in two more runs, putting Milwaukee up 4-1.
Milwaukee sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth and added four runs, two on Jonathan Villar's double.
Weaver, who held the Brewers scoreless through four innings, surrendered seven runs and 11 hits in five innings.
After a crew chief review, Albert Pujols was ruled safe on a play at the plate after sliding into the left leg of Lucroy, the Brewers' catcher. Pujols, who had doubled, tried to score on pinch-hitter C.J. Cron's eighth-inning single but initially was called out on a tag by Lucroy. The call was overturned after a review that lasted 4 minutes, 32 seconds.
"There's no doubt that five years ago you are telling Jonathan Lucroy, `Hey, great play.' But the way the rules are written now there's no doubt that it influenced Albert's slide," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Rivera drove in his first run in the major leagues with a sixth-inning single on his 24th birthday.
Angels: An MRI on Monday on P Tyler Skaggs revealed biceps tendinitis. Skaggs, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, was scratched from a scheduled start last week at Triple-A Salt Lake City because of fatigue. He will be re-evaluated in one week. ... OF Daniel Nava, who has been battling knee tendinitis, began a rehab assignment at Class A-Inland Empire on Monday and could rejoin the Angels by the weekend. ... OF Craig Gentry, who is on the 15-day DL with a lumbar spine strain, is receiving therapy in Dallas, where he resides.
Brewers: OF Domingo Santana, Milwaukee's leadoff hitter, was a last-minute scratch due to right shoulder tightness.
Angels: Nick Tropeano (1-0, 2.11 ERA) will be making his first career start against the Brewers. Has allowed two runs or less in all four of his starts this season.
Brewers: Junior Guerra will make his first major league start. He was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he was 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts. Guerra has appeared in three major league games, all in relief last season with the Chicago White Sox.