Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with four RBI and homered during a six-run fourth inning that lifted the Washington Nationals to a 12-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Monday at Nationals Park.
Jordan Zimmermann also helped the NL East-leading Nationals reduce their magic number for winning the division to five by tossing 6 2/3 innings and going 2- for-3 at the plate, including a two-out single during the fourth-inning outburst that snapped a 1-1 tie.
On the mound, Zimmermann (12-8) held Milwaukee to just one run -- a solo homer by Corey Hart in the top of the second inning -- and four hits while striking out seven batters before exiting in the top of the seventh. The young righty is now 3-0 with a 2.19 earned run average over his last four starts.
"I was throwing the fastball and getting ahead, and when I do that, I feel like I can control the game," Zimmermann said. "I'm glad I'm having a few good ones here as the regular season is coming to a close."
Danny Espinosa also finished with three hits for Washington, which earned a split of this four-game series. Jayson Werth and Kurt Suzuki each contributed two hits and a pair of RBI to the rout.
Aramis Ramirez had an RBI double and Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 for previously hot Milwaukee, which lost for only the second time in its past nine contests and fell 3 1/2 games back of St. Louis in the race for the NL's final wild card berth. The Cardinals beat the Astros on Monday.
Brewers starting pitcher Marco Estrada (4-7) was dealt the loss after being tagged for a season-high seven runs -- six earned -- on eight hits in just four innings. The right-hander entered the game having logged 13 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous two appearances and was 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA in a six-start stretch heading into Monday's outing.
Estrada yielded just one unearned run over the first three innings before the Nationals erupted in the fourth, in which all six runs crossed the plate with two outs and Washington benefited from a misplayed ball by Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez.
Milwaukee appeared to be in good position to escape unscathed after Espinosa was cut down at the plate while attempting to score on a ground ball for the second out. However, Suzuki singled to extend the frame and Zimmermann followed with a line drive to center to score Roger Bernadina for a 2-1 Nationals' lead.
Werth then lofted a potential inning-ending fly ball that Gomez lost in the sun for a gift double, enabling Suzuki and Zimmermann to cross the plate for a 4-1 advantage. After Estrada subsequently walked Bryce Harper, Zimmerman blasted an 0-1 pitch that cleared the center-field fence to break open the contest.
"Really, the fly ball in the sun was the difference," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "If that ball's caught, it's still a 2-1 game. We gave them a run in the first, but it would've been a good ballgame."
The Nationals tacked on two more runs in the fifth on Suzuki's one-out double off reliever Kameron Loe to make it 9-1.
After Ramirez knocked in Braun with a double off Tyler Clippard in the top of the eighth, the Nationals scored three times against Milwaukee lefty Manny Parra in their half of the frame to close out the scoring.
Zimmerman brought in the first run with a single to right, with Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki mishandling the ball to enable another man to score on the play and put Washington ahead by an 11-2 count. Zimmerman would later come home on a bases-loaded fielder's choice off the bat of Espinosa.
Washington also took advantage of some poor defense to briefly move out in front in the bottom of the first inning, when Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy threw over third baseman Ramirez's head on a steal attempt from Harper. The Nationals' rookie had reached base on an infield single before advancing to second on a walk.
The lead turned out to be short-lived, however, as Hart sent Zimmermann's first offering of the second inning over the wall in right-center for his 28th home run of the season.
The Nationals improved to 69-19 when scoring first this season ... Lucroy singled in the top of the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, in which he's batting .341 (14-for-41) ... Washington's Eury Perez collected his first major-league hit with a pinch-hit single in the eighth ... Estrada was a sixth-round draft choice of Washington in 2005 and pitched in 15 games for the Nationals from 2008-09 ... With the win, Washington took the season series between the clubs by a 5-3 count.