The Washington Nationals’ best stretch of the season can get better with their first series sweep of 2006.
The Nationals (24-32) go for their first sweep of an opponent since September when they play the finale of a three-game set against the struggling Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Sunday.
Washington has won three straight and 10 of 14, including a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee (26-30) on Saturday. The Nationals have outscored the opposition 73-56 in their last 14 games and have won four of their last five series.
The Nationals franchise has not swept the Brewers since doing it twice in 2003 and has not swept any team since winning three straight on Sept. 26-28 from Florida.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, will try to avoid losing eight straight for the first time since a 12-game slide from Aug. 18-30, 2004. The Brewers have been outscored 56-17 during their losing streak.
Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-4 with a run scored in Saturday’s win and is 6-for-13 over the last three contests, but it was catcher Brian Schneider’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth that gave the Nationals the comeback victory.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard,” said Schneider, who has five RBIs over the last two games. “I knew when I hit it I at least got the job done. When it went out, it was definitely a bonus.”
Tony Armas (5-3, 3.67 ERA) takes the mound for Washington looking to rebound from his only loss in his last nine outings. The right-hander allowed four runs and five hits—including a three-run homer to Bobby Abreu—over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Armas, who leads the Nationals in wins, also has been strong on the road, going 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts versus the Brewers, holding them to just eight hits and a .174 batting average.
The left-hander allowed six runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out six over three innings in a 12-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday before leaving with a cracked nail on his left middle finger.
“I wanted to see him go out and get on the attack, and he did that (Tuesday),” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “I didn’t want him to go out there and beat himself. … I don’t know how much the (nail) was affecting him. It was affecting him a little bit, but not enough to put the whole five-run blame on.”
De la Rosa, who has a 6.55 ERA at home this season, has not started at Miller Park since Sept. 20, 2004.
The Brewers’ pitching staff has an 8.13 ERA during the current skid and are allowing opposing batters to hit .329.
Brewers center fielder Brady Clark had a two-run single Saturday and is batting .414 (12-for-29) during an eight-game hitting streak.