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Hot-hitting Washington whips reeling Brewers

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Associated Press
July 29, 2009
— Adam Dunn hit a ball out of Miller Park on a hop. The rest of the Washington Nationals are knocking the Milwaukee Brewers right out of the postseason chase.

Dunn hit a 445-foot blast that he never saw land, Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman also homered and the Nationals beat the reeling Brewers, 8-3, on Tuesday night, tying their longest winning streak this season at four games.


“This is what I expected. I expected us to score a lot of runs and get good pitching and win a lot of games. We’re getting really good pitching now and getting good defense,” Dunn said. “As long as we do that, we’ll be in every game.”


Morgan led off the game with a homer, Dunn’s hit came in the fourth and Guzman capped it with a three-run shot in the eighth.


Washington, which still has the worst record in the majors at 32-68, has won six of its last eight under interim manager Jim Riggleman, who improved to 6-7 since taking over at the All-Star break for Manny Acta.


“We’re feeling that this is what we could’ve been doing all along. We’ve been playing good baseball here in the last week,” Riggleman said. “It’s hard to play aerospace ball and have everything going your way. Nothing went our way early.”


Ryan Braun hit his 21st homer and second in as many days, but Milwaukee (48-50) is fading from the playoff picture after losing 16 of 23. The Brewers had a two-game lead in the NL Central to start July, but is fourth in the division and even farther behind in the wild card race.


“As bad as we’ve played we’re still not too far out,” right fielder Corey Hart said. “We’ve just got to try to figure it out before it spirals down too much.”


Brewers manager Ken Macha pondered a question about if it’s been difficult to stay positive.


“I’ve been through worse,” he said. “Our toughest job as coaches is to try to keep everybody as upbeat as we can. Four of the last five games have been kind of tough.”


Collin Balester (1-1) scattered two runs and five hits in six innings, winning his first game since being called up after prized prospect Jordan Zimmerman (elbow) went on the disabled list.


The Nationals, who have scored 38 runs in the last four games, gave Balester the lead before he took the mound when Morgan homered on the second pitch from Carlos Villanueva (2-8). Morgan added a two-out, two-run single in the fourth and is hitting .388 with 13 stolen bases since coming over in a June 30 trade with Pittsburgh.


Dunn’s long shot led off the fourth and went just to the right side of a truck billboard in right-center field, where it bounced once in the concourse before leaving the stadium through the open panels. A surprised fan picked it up outside.


“That ball was crushed,” Balester said. “That’s one of the farthest balls I’ve seen.”


Milwaukee has allowed 12 homers in the last five games and eight runs or more in six of the last eight with its pitching staff in shambles.


Dave Bush is on the disabled list, Jeff Suppan is ailing and Milwaukee is scouring for help at a reasonable price before Friday’s trade deadline.


The pitching problems forced Villanueva to make his first start since May 18, 2008. He allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings and Guzman homered off reliever Tim Dillard in the eighth for the rest of the runs.


“We’re getting good pitching and when we’re not making errors and costing ourselves ball games, we’ve got a chance to win and our offense will keep us in it,” Dunn said. “That’s probably the recipe for us—and every team.”



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