07/30/09 6:37 PM ET
Late strike gives Crew consecutive wins
Spirits high after Cameron scores under tag; Gallardo fans 11
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
Mike Cameron scored on a close call in the bottom of the seventh inning and Milwaukee pulled away from there, as the Brewers beat the Nationals, 7-3, Thursday afternoon at Miller Park to post consecutive wins for the first time in a month.
"It's been a while," Brewers manager Ken Macha said of the back-to-back wins. "It's a nice feeling. We'll have a nice flight to San Diego."
Coupled with Wednesday's win, Thursday's victory marked the first time the Brewers won consecutive games in exactly one month. They beat the Mets on June 29 and 30 at Miller Park, but have since struggled, going 9-16 in July.
The team also broke its current funk in day games, breaking a six-game losing streak as the Miller Park roof was closed due to gray skies in the early innings.
"It's tough. We have all the guys out there playing hard, but it's just going to happen during the season," Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo said of the stretch. "It's tough to play in that stretch, but we have a great team here with a good bullpen, good pitching staff [and] good hitters, so we're just going to turn it around like the past two days."
On Thursday, the Brewers got contributions from all those pieces, as the team climbed back to .500.
Craig Counsell hit a two-run homer in the third inning to give the Brewers an early lead, but Gallardo gave the runs back in the top of the fourth.
After giving up a leadoff single to Nyjer Morgan, who went 10-for-19 in the series -- a "thorn in our side," according to Macha -- Gallardo walked Nick Johnson with one out.
Gallardo struck out Adam Dunn for the second out, but gave up the lead on a three-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman.
"I think overall I was pretty good. I made one mistake there to Zimmerman with the 2-0 fastball I threw over the plate," Gallardo said. "I was trying to go in, but it was a mistake over the plate and he hit it for a home run."
Prince Fielder answered in the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot to left, and the game remained tied until the Brewers took the lead and eventually broke it open in the later innings.
Cameron led off the seventh with a double down the left-field line and moved to third on a single by Casey McGehee. Jason Kendall followed with a slow roller to third base, and Zimmerman threw home in an attempt to nab Cameron.
The throw beat Cameron, but he slid under the tag of Nationals catcher Wil Nieves to score the go-ahead run.
"I just tagged him too high. I just should have blocked [the plate]," Nieves said. "I better make sure it won't happen again. It's just one of those plays you have to make."
Though the run first looked to be the difference, the Brewers tacked on another run later in the inning and two more in the eighth, as the Milwaukee bullpen came in and pitched a hitless eighth and ninth.
Gallardo (10-7) earned the win, allowing five hits and striking out 11 in seven innings. Washington starter J.D. Martin (0-2) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits.
"That's something to build on," Fielder said of the win. "Hopefully we can take that with us on the West Coast and see what happens."
After the game, the team announced that Jeff Suppan (left oblique strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 28, while the Brewers optioned struggling third baseman Bill Hall to Triple-A Nashville.
Additional roster moves were to be announced later Thursday night or Friday morning.
Despite the news of another hole in the starting rotation -- Gallardo didn't even know Suppan had been put on the DL -- the clubhouse was in high spirits following the win, as the team prepared to embark on a nine-day road trip.
Although a 3-4 homestand is far from what the Brewers expected, especially against the Nationals -- owners of baseball's worst record -- coming in, they'll take anything they think can get them back on track.
"It just goes to show you when things aren't going well, it doesn't matter who you play. When you're playing big league baseball, you have a chance to win and lose, and sometimes, the best team doesn't win," Cameron said. "We're better than them, but a couple of games they played really well."
Though the team is suddenly on a winning streak, Counsell was hesitant to say the worst was over.
Counsell's reluctance in looking ahead wasn't because of doubt in his team, but because he knows it will take the Brewers more than two games to climb out of their current funk.
"We can't afford to think about it like that," Counsell said. "We have to think about today, and now that today is done, we have to start thinking about tomorrow. You can't get beyond that as a player. You just can't. Obviously, .500's not going to get you to the playoffs, but what you worry about is getting it done and trying to do your job tomorrow."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.