WASHINGTON (AP) — With hits hard to come by, the Washington Nationals turned to the reliable Anthony Rendon yet again.
Rendon hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Friday night in the opener of a three-game series between National League playoff contenders.
Rendon, who drove in Washington’s first run on a double in the third, is hitting .354 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 34 games since July 6.
“He’s been unbelievable all year long with Juan (Soto) behind him,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s the guy who makes our lineup go and you’re seeing that right now. He comes up big for us in all aspects of the game.”
The Nationals’ five-game winning streak matched their longest of the season. At 66-55, they improved to 11 games over .500 for the first time since June 9, 2018.
Washington shortstop Trea Turner led off the eighth with a walk off Junior Guerra (6-4), moved to second on Adam Eaton’s sacrifice and scored on Rendon’s double off the wall in right.
“Same boring answer: Stay inside the ball and try to put the barrel on it,” Rendon said.
Washington’s three hits were its fewest in a victory this season.
Milwaukee, which lost for just the third time in nine games, was 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.
“It’s the same story tonight,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We just didn’t get a hit with men in scoring position. We pitched really good. We need more runs. Bottom line.”
Hunter Strickland (1-1) worked a scoreless eighth in his first decision since the Nationals acquired him from Seattle on July 31. Sean Doolittle gave up a four-pitch leadoff walk to Keston Hiura in the ninth but finished up for his 28th save in 33 tries.
Milwaukee shortstop Orlando Arcia opened the scoring with his 13th homer to lead off the third against Washington starter Patrick Corbin. It was Arcia’s first home run since July 5.
Brewers starter Adrian Houser was efficient, giving up just two hits and two walks while hitting two batters in seven innings of one-run ball. He struck out four.
Corbin wiggled out of repeated jams over six innings, striking out eight. He used his slider to induce swinging third strikes to leave at least one runner in scoring position in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Corbin was responsible for 10 of the Brewers left stranded.
“I was able to use it in big spots,” Corbin said of the slider. “Just against these guys when they do get some guys in scoring position you don’t want to make a mistake there. Threw some tough sliders and maybe threw more balls than I’d like to but sometimes against these guys it works out that way.”
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (back spasms) is scheduled to come off the injured list and start Monday in Milwaukee’s series opener at St. Louis, giving LHP Gio Gonzalez an extra day of rest between his turns.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (mild rhomboid strain), who has made just one start since the All-Star break, will throw another simulated game Saturday. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA. … 1B Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) was scheduled to begin rehabilitation assignment Friday, but Double-A Harrisburg’s game at Richmond was postponed due to wet grounds.
Milwaukee OF Christian Yelich was 0 for 5, and last year’s NL MVP is just 1 for 16 since returning from a back injury that cost him four games.
“Anytime Christian’s not getting hits, you feel like he’s going to do some serious damage here,” Counsell said. “It’s three (full) games back. He’ll get it going.”
Brewers: RHP Jordan Lyles (7-8, 4.71 ERA) is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA since Milwaukee reacquired him last month just before the trade deadline.
Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 3.75 ERA) is 7-0 with a 2.99 ERA in 13 starts since coming off the injured list on May 29 to match the longest winning streak of his career.
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