Brewers hammer Nationals with six in sixth to rebound for series win

WASHINGTON -- The Milwaukee Brewers haven't had much success in day games this season so it was hardly surprising that as day turned to night their offense woke up.

"I was anxiously anticipating the clock to get past 6 o'clock," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "And it just seemed to happen right there at the sixth inning."

Ryan Braun hit a two-run home run to jump-start a six-run sixth inning that helped Milwaukee beat the Washington Nationals 7-1 Monday in a game that started at 4:35 p.m.

"That inning we took advantage of the pitches we did get to hit," Braun said. "It was a good inning. Everybody contributed. It's kind of how we've been offensively of late."

The Brewers improved to 15-25 in day games, compared to a 46-38 mark at night. The big sixth inning where 11 batters came to the plate helped them take three of four from the Nationals after being swept by Pittsburgh to start the road trip.

Jody Gerut also homered and had three RBIs for Milwaukee. It was the first home run for Gerut since joining the Brewers in a trade from the Padres May 21. He had gone 90 at-bats without a home run before his solo shot in the eighth.

Yovani Gallardo (12-10) gave up one run on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out eight, and had thrown 108 pitches when Gerut came on to pinch-hit for him in the sixth.

"I kind of struggled there for the first couple innings," Gallardo said. "We all knew my pitch count was up, I was going to go as deep as I could. Brauny hit that two-run home run and it opened the gates for us."

Nationals starter Collin Balester (1-4) lasted just 1 1/3 innings in his last start Tuesday against the Rockies, the shortest stint of his career. He started off strong against the Brewers and had a career-high six strikeouts, but the end result was his third loss in as many starts.

The right-hander held the Brewers hitless until Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee hit back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth.

He took the mound for the sixth inning holding a 1-0 lead, but things changed in a hurry.

"Things tend to happen that way," Gerut. "When you've got a quite a few bats in the order, the game can turn on a dime."

Frank Catalanotto led off with a double, then Braun crushed a first-pitch fastball deep into the left-field seats.

"I kind of lost the rhythm a little bit," Balester said. "I should have stepped back and recouped, but by that point I was out of the game."

Balester gave way to Jason Bergmann after giving up another single to Fielder and walking McGehee. Bergmann walked Mike Cameron and gave up an RBI single to Jason Kendall before being pulled in favor of Ron Villone, who promptly allowed a two-run single to Gerut.

Milwaukee sent nine batters to the plate before Washington got an out, and even then Felipe Lopez earned an RBI when he hit into a fielder's choice.

The Nationals eked a run in the second. Willie Harris led off with a double. Alberto Gonzalez followed with a strikeout, but a wild pitch allowed him to reach first and Harris went to third. Harris then scored on a fielder's choice by Wil Nieves.

Gallardo got out of several jams after giving up the run. Washington stranded the bases loaded in the third, and left runners on third base again in the fourth and fifth innings.

"We were definitely looking for that big hit," Nationals outfielder Willie Harris said. "We couldn't get it because he pitched well. That's all there is too it. We ran into a monster today, tip your hat to him."

Game notes
Nationals LHP Sean Burnett was available only in an emergency after hurting his left thumb trying to field a grounder Sunday. "Hopefully he can go tomorrow," manager Jim Riggleman said before Monday's game. X-rays were negative, but Burnett's thumb was sore and he had trouble gripping a ball. ... Washington OF Elijah Dukes was out of the starting lineup again because of a blister on his left thumb. "We anticipate he'll be back in there" Tuesday, Riggleman said. ... Brewers manager Ken Macha gave INF Craig Counsell the day off. Counsell is in an 0-for-11 slump and is hitting .214 (12-for-56) in August. ... Braun is now 3-for-9 with two home runs when facing Balester.