The Washington Nationals improved their record at RFK Stadium with an outstanding 10-game homestand. Now the Nats try again to pick up their play on the road when they continue a nine-game trip against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a three-game series.
The Nationals (22-32) went 7-3 on their recently complete homestand to improve their home mark to 10-13, but Washington continued to struggle on the road as it began its current trip. The Nats dropped two of three in Philadelphia, including an 11-2 loss in the series opener Monday.
Washington avoided the sweep Wednesday with a 3-2 victory, upping its road record to just 12-19. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run home run and a game-tying single, and Chad Cordero got his eighth save in 10 chances for the Nationals, who are tied for the most road losses in the NL.
“It stopped a two-game losing streak, but it helped us get the momentum again,” Cordero said. “Last week, we played so well and then we hit a two-game bump, so getting this win helped us a lot.”
Washington had lost eight of its last 10 away from RFK Stadium before the victory.
Soriano is batting .297 with 19 home runs and 38 RBIs. He’s hitting .347 (26-for-75) with nine HRs and 18 RBIs in his last 19 games.
“Soriano gave us a spark,” manager Frank Robinson said. “It seems when he does things, we win the game.”
The Nationals will give the ball to Ramon Ortiz (3-4, 5.31 ERA) on Friday. Since losing his first four decisions, the right-hander has won three straight starts, including Sunday’s 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ortiz lasted seven innings, giving up three runs and four hits while striking out five.
“He is throwing a better breaking ball, and he has more faith in it breaking. He’s throwing it in all types of situations and counts,” Robinson said.
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA in six games, including five starts, against the Brewers.
Ortiz will be opposed by Dana Eveland (0-2, 7.97 ERA), who will make his fifth major league start in place of the injured Ben Sheets. The 22-year-old left-hander lost second straight start Sunday, giving up four runs in five innings of a 6-2 defeat to the Phillies. He also hit three batters.
“I thought part of the time out there he was throwing, not pitching,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “When he did settle down and pitch, he pitched OK. For the most part, he was battling most of the day.”
The Brewers (26-28) lost the last five games of their 10-game road trip, as Pittsburgh completed a four-game sweep Monday. In the series finale, the Brewers had a 3-2 lead in the ninth, but Derrick Turnbow gave up the game-winning run—twice.
Jose Castillo appeared to hit a two-run home run, but umpires ruled the ball did not clear the wall and gave Castillo a double. The hit did tie the game, and Castillo then scored to win it when Ryan Doumit singled, completing a 3-7 trip for the Brewers.
Milwaukee has been outscored 36-8 during its five-game slide.
“It’s been tough,” said Turnbow, who has blown three saves and has two losses since May 13. “But to go every season without some kind of struggle is impossible. You just deal with it.”
The Brewers are opening a 10-game homestand. They are 17-9 at Miller Park.