Washington (9-24) at Milwaukee (23-10)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 56° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Wed May 9, 2007
  • TV: MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Claudio Vargas might be the Milwaukee Brewers’ fifth starter, but he’s a big reason they have one of the best rotations in the majors.

The right-hander looks for his fourth win Wednesday afternoon when the Brewers try to sweep the Washington Nationals and close out a successful homestand.

Vargas (3-0, 2.89 ERA), off to the best start of his five-year career, joins Chris Capuano as the only undefeated members of a Brewers’ rotation that boasts a 3.48 ERA. He’ll try to help Milwaukee (23-10) extend its season-high winning streak to six games and finish 9-1 on the homestand.

Vargas, who was with the Nationals franchise from 2003-2005 in Washington and prior in Montreal, has not allowed a run in 12 innings. Vargas gave up four hits in six scoreless innings in Milwaukee’s 10-0 win over Pittsburgh on Friday.

The Brewers are 5-1 in games Vargas has started.

“The last couple of outings I’ve tried to be too fine,” Vargas told the Brewers’ official Web site. “I have to pound the strike zone and try to go seven, eight, nine innings.”

Vargas has a 6.00 ERA and did not earn a decision in his lone start against his former team on Sept. 11.

Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer, and J.J. Hardy went 2-for-4 with a homer to extend his hitting streak to 19 games in the Brewers’ 6-4 win over the Nationals for their ninth victory in 10 games.

“It’s been unbelievable, especially this homestand where we’re 8-1,” said closer Francisco Cordero, who saved his 14th game in as many opportunities, but allowed his first run to raise his ERA to 0.57. “We’re pitching great, we’re hitting great, we’ve got a great defense and we’re in first place.”

Fielder, the reigning NL player of the week, has 10 homers—three in his last two games. Hardy, meanwhile, is hitting .418 (33-for-79) with eight homers and 23 RBIs during his hitting streak.

The Brewers have a 6 1/2-game lead atop the NL Central, matching their largest division lead in franchise history, established on Aug. 27, 1982.

Washington (9-24) has the majors’ worst record and will try to avoid extending its season-high losing streak to eight games. The Nationals have scored 17 runs during their skid.

“I hate losing. I think everybody does,” said Washington’s Felipe Lopez, who went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs on Tuesday. “Even if you’re doing good. If you’re a team player, it’s not fun.”

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 for the Nationals, and is hitting .417 (10-for-24) in his last six games.

Jason Bergmann (0-3, 3.34) will again look for his first win since 2005 when he takes the mound for the Nationals on Wednesday. In his most recent outing, Bergman could not hold a 4-0 first-inning lead and allowed four earned runs and eight hits in Washington’s 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

The left-hander, who is 0-4 in 13 career starts, will make his first appearance against the Brewers.

The Nationals will be without struggling closer Chad Cordero, who was placed the bereavement list to be with his dying grandmother. Cordero, who will miss a minimum of three games, has four saves and a 4.70 ERA in 15 appearances. Jon Rauch is expected to take over the closer role until Cordero returns.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Bergmann KC vs. C. Vargas Tor
6-6 Record 11-6
4.45 ERA 5.09
86 K 107
42 BB 54
1.22 WHIP 1.54

Scoreboard

Wednesday, May 9