Brewers fall in 4-hit shutout
Livan Hernandez threw his first shutout in nearly six years, and catcher Ivan Rodriguez drove in three runs and boosted his batting average to .419. That was enough to give the Nationals their first winning record in more than two years.
Justin Maxwell, whose wife gave birth to their second child this week, added three RBIs, and Ryan Zimmerman returned from a hamstring injury and drove in two in the Nationals' 8-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Playing behind the 35-year-old Hernandez and the 38-year-old Rodriguez has made an impression on their younger teammates.
"It's a few years in the big leagues," Zimmerman said.
Hernandez didn't allow a hit after pitcher Randy Wolf's single in the fifth. He struck out three and walked two in his eighth career shutout — his first since July 30, 2004, while with Montreal.
"I try not to think about it. When I've got a chance to go for it, I go, and the last inning was very good. It went fast," Hernandez said. "I'm very lucky."
Zimmerman made a sparkling play on a ground ball off the bat of Casey McGehee in the ninth.
It was the second straight outstanding start for Hernandez, who threw 112 pitches. He worked seven scoreless innings in New York on April 11, giving up five hits to the Mets.
Washington (6-5) won its third straight and owns a winning record for the first time since April 4, 2008, when the Nationals were 3-2.
Rodriguez knocked in three runs with a base hit in the second and a two-run double in the sixth. Maxwell also drove in three with a two-run home run in the second and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
"It's nice for young guys to have a catcher like that," Hernandez said. "For me, too."
Hernandez (2-0), thought to be a placeholder until phenom Stephen Strasburg is summoned from the minors, was in trouble only in the second inning when he loaded the bases on a double and two walks with one out. Wolf ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
"He's been in baseball a long time. I've been in baseball a long time. We know what to do," Rodriguez said. "He doesn't throw hard, but he locates pitches very well. He makes everybody's job easy."
Washington manager Jim Riggleman was surprised to learn that Hernandez hadn't thrown a shutout in so long.
"A shutout in today's world is almost nonexistent. Nobody throws them anymore," Riggleman said.
Wolf (1-1) allowed four runs and four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Wolf fell behind 3-0 in the second on Maxwell's home run — his first of the season — and Rodriguez' single.
"They pretty much handed it to us," Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said.
Zimmerman, starting his first game in a week after being sidelined by a strained left hamstring, drove in two runs with doubles in the fourth and seventh innings.
The Nationals added three runs in the sixth off Todd Coffey.
NOTES: Milwaukee 2B Rickie Weeks was hitless for the first time this season, snapping his hitting streak at 10 games. ... Brewer pitchers have allowed a home run in each of the first 11 games, two short of the franchise record. ... Macha will try to avoid starting Wolf and his other left-handed starter, Doug Davis on consecutive days. Davis' turn was scheduled to come up on Sunday and Friday. Right-hander Jeff Suppan will start instead. ... Washington OF Josh Willingham has reached base seven of eight times during the series.
Last updated: 1:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012