On a day the Brewers acknowledged they were working to trade ace Zack Greinke, the team's other top-line pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, put the team in a hole early.
Steve Lombardozzi hit a bases-loaded triple to cap a four-run second inning in the Washington Nationals' 8-2 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night, sending the Brewers to their seventh consecutive loss.
General manager Doug Melvin acknowledged earlier Thursday he was working to trade Greinke, effectively signaling that the Brewers are giving up hopes of reaching the postseason a year after advancing to the NL championship series.
With Greinke's departure apparently imminent, Gallardo (8-8) will be counted on to anchor the rotation. For the second straight start the right-hander struggled, giving up seven runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in five innings.
"It just seemed like everything didn't go the way we wanted it to," he said.
In his last start on July 21, Gallardo gave up four runs in the first inning in a 6-2 loss at Cincinnati. The right-hander said this has been his toughest stretch in the major leagues, and manager Ron Roenicke said it was difficult to make up early deficits.
"Tough to bounce back from," Roenicke said. "It's hard."
Gallardo was outpitched by Washington starter Edwin Jackson (6-6), who scattered eight hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings.
Adam LaRoche hit the first pitch of the second inning for his 19th home run of the year to make it 1-0.
With two outs, Roger Bernadina walked. Washington put on the hit-and-run, and Jesus Flores hit a routine grounder to second. But Rickie Weeks had left his position to cover second and the ball bounced into the outfield, allowing Flores to reach on a single that kept the inning alive.
Gallardo then walked Jackson to load the bases.
"You can't walk the pitcher," Gallardo said. "You have to make him earn his way on."
Lombardozzi followed with a hard grounder past a diving Corey Hart at first that went down the right-field line for a triple and a 4-0 Washington lead.
The Nationals scored three more off Gallardo in the fifth.
The Nationals have won six consecutive games, matching a season-high, and improved to 59-39. The last time a Washington-based team was 20 games over .500 was 1933, when the American League Senators finished 99-53 and lost the World Series in five games to the New York Giants.
Every Washington starter reached base except for Danny Espinosa, who went 0 for 4 in snapping his 11-game hitting streak.
Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez hit a two-run home run, his eighth of the year, off reliever Henry Rodriguez in the eighth.
NOTES: Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy was reinstated from the 15-day DL and the contract of RHP Jeff Henderson was selected from Triple-A Nashville. To make room on the roster, C George Kottaras was designated for assignment and INF Jeff Bianchi was optioned to Nashville. ... Washington had lost eight consecutive games at Miller Park, but it was the first game between the teams since May 2011.