The Washington Nationals haven't won in Milwaukee in three years, yet they arrive at Miller Park with plenty of confidence.
The Brewers may have forgotten what that feels like.
The NL East-leading Nationals go for a season high-tying sixth straight victory Thursday night when Milwaukee looks to end its longest losing streak of 2012.
Washington was outscored 24-13 in its last trip to Milwaukee from May 23-25, 2011, and it's 0-8 there since an 8-3 win July 28, 2009. The Nationals, however, begin this four-game series a season-best 19 games above .500 after opening their trip with a sweep of the New York Mets .
Washington (58-39), leading second-place Atlanta by 4 1/2 games, hasn't been this far above the break-even mark since it was 51-32 on July 5, 2005.
The team's starters have dropped their major league-best ERA from 3.22 to 3.11 during this surge, while the club is batting .304 with 6.4 runs per game since its last loss, 4-0 to the Braves on Saturday.
"Our pitching's really good. Hitters are doing a great job, so why not have a little confidence?" slugger Michael Morse told the Nationals' official website after hitting one of the team's three homers in Wednesday's 5-2 victory.
One question the Brewers have to be asking themselves following an 0-6 trip is what to do with the closer's role after Francisco Rodriguez blew his second save in three games in Wednesday's 7-6 10-inning loss to Philadelphia.
"I haven't been around the game much, but this is the worst road trip I think I've ever been on, the most disheartening and heartbreaking, too," Axford said.
A season-low nine games below .500, the Brewers (44-53) will give the ball to Yovani Gallardo (8-7, 3.72 ERA) as they try to avoid their first seven-game skid since April 30-May 6, 2011.
"We just have to turn things around to stay close, and then have that good stretch and make a run for it," Gallardo, who has won his last three home decisions, told the Brewers' official website after giving up four runs - all in the first inning - in Saturday's 6-2 loss at Cincinnati.
Milwaukee has won 14 of 21 at home, but Washington's 30-20 road record is tied with Atlanta for the best in the majors.
The Nationals will look to improve that mark with Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73) on the mound.
The right-hander took the loss Saturday, but his nine strikeouts and seven strong innings were a step in the right direction after posting a 10.54 ERA in his previous three outings.
Jackson last faced the Brewers on Aug. 30, when he threw seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 road win while with St. Louis.
Ryan Braun , 3 for 12 with two doubles off Jackson, hit .440 (11 for 25) with his NL-leading 27th and 28th homers on the trip. Braun was 8 for 21 versus Washington last season.
Brewers right fielder Corey Hart hit four homers in the Nationals' last visit, including a career-high three to back Gallardo in an 11-3 victory May 23, 2011.
Morse had team highs with three homers and nine RBIs against Milwaukee in 2011.
Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is batting .432 (19 for 44) during an 11-game hitting streak, and his only hit in five at-bats against Gallardo is a home run.
The home team has won the last nine games between these clubs.
|July 22, 2012||Ian Desmond||15-Day DL||Torn left oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Jhonatan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
|June 24, 2012||Xavier Nady||15-Day DL||Right wrist tendinitis|
|June 24, 2012||Xavier Nady||15-Day DL||Right wrist tendinitis|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|May 26, 2012||Cesar Izturis||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- For the first time in 79 years, a Washington-based team is 20 games over .500.
And the Nationals say they have a lot more to accomplish.
Edwin Jackson pitched seven scoreless innings and Steve Lombardozzi hit a three-run triple in the Nationals' 8-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
"We haven't done nothin'," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "We're playing good ball. We're playing good on the road. Pitching staff has been great, offense has been good, defense outstanding. That's how you win ballgames."
The Nationals have won six consecutive games, matching a season-high, and improved to 59-39. The last time a District of Columbia 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.
"It's July," Ryan Zimmerman said. "If we have the best record in September or October then we can talk about it."
Milwaukee's seventh straight loss came on the day general manager Doug Melvin acknowledged he was working to trade ace Zack Greinke , effectively signaling that the Brewers are giving up hopes of reaching the postseason a year after advancing to the NL championship series.
"We just got down early and never could get the big hit," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.
Jackson (6-6) scattered eight hits and a walk while striking out four.
"I made a couple of pitches when I needed to and had some defensive plays when I needed them," the right-hander said. "It was just a combination of both."
The Brewers were 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position against Jackson.
"Our guy was just spectacular," Johnson said. "A couple little jams and he pitched out of them. He's been pitching great all year."
The victory also allowed the Nationals to tie the New York Yankees for the best record in the major leagues.
"Those guys deserve it," Johnson said of the team's record. "They hung in there when times were really tough. Shoot, we've earned it."
Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo (8-8) put his team in a hole early, allowing the Nationals to score four runs in the second. The right-hander gave up seven runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in five innings.
"I just couldn't find my put-away pitch," Gallardo said.
Every Washington starter reached base except for Danny Espinosa , who went 0 for 4 in snapping his 11-game hitting streak.
Adam LaRoche homered for the third consecutive game, driving 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 vacated his spot to cover second. The ball bounced into the outfield and Flores reached on a single to keep the inning alive.
Gallardo then walked Jackson to load the bases. 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. Jackson led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out single by Bryce Harper .
Zimmerman then hit an RBI single to score Jackson, and LaRoche's slow groundout to first scored Harper for a 6-0 lead.
Michael Morse hit an RBI single that drove in Zimmerman for a 7-0 lead and then added another single in the eighth that gave Washington an 8-0 lead.
Carlos Gomez hit a two-run home run, his eighth of the year, off reliever Henry Rodriguez in the eighth for Milwaukee.
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.