FINAL: Nationals 6, Brewers 1
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals tried not to make too much of Friday night's unsightly loss to the Brewers, which came on the heels of a red-eye flight from Colorado following a long West Coast trip. The proof, though, would hinge on how they played in tonight's second game against Milwaukee. The answer: Well. Very well.
Joe Ross cruised over seven innings, allowing only one run in the rookie right-hander's latest impressive performance. And his teammates put together a quality performance at the plate against tough Brewers rookie Taylor Jungmann. Michael Taylor and Anthony Rendon each homered, and Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each drove in runs to help pace a balanced attack and send the Nationals to one of their most complete victories in awhile.
With that, the Nats got themselves back to the .500 mark, with a chance to win their second consecutive series Sunday afternoon.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The offense in this one came not from the heart of the order but from the guys at the top and the bottom. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon reached base a collective six times, while Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos and Michael Taylor totaled five hits and three RBI. The big rally came in the bottom of the fourth, with contributions from several of those guys. Ramos doubled home Espinosa with a rope into the left-field corner. Werth then singled home Ramos with a base hit back up the middle. And Rendon delivered a big, 2-out double down the left-field line that brough Taylor home and nearly brought Werth home (he was tagged out on a close play at the plate). Those kind of quality at-bats from five different players proved critical in this game.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: After back-to-back shaky outings on the West Coast, Ross was back to his old self in D.C. The rookie was efficient, kept the ball over the plate and kept damage to a minimum. Over seven strong innings, he scattered six hits, allowing only one run (Khris Davis' towering homer on a hanging slider). Here's the most-impressive fact about Ross to date: In nine of his 10 big-league starts, he has walked zero or one batter. That's incredibly uncommon for a rookie.
KEY STAT: Taylor Jungmann had pitched at least five innings in 12 of his 13 big-league starts to date before getting knocked out after four innings by the Nationals tonight.
UP NEXT: The series finale features Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.44) against struggling veteran right-hander Matt Garza (6-13, 4.98) at 1:35 p.m. Sunday.