Brewers 6, Nationals 2

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WASHINGTON (AP)—Milwaukee’s hitters handed Dave Bush an early cushion, and he had an easy time against the struggling Washington Nationals.

Ryan Braun homered twice, Bush took a shutout into the seventh inning and the Brewers snapped a three-game skid with a 6-2 victory over Washington on Friday night.

“Most important, it came in a win,” said Braun, who had his first career multihomer game. “It was crucial for us to get a win tonight. Hopefully, we’ll play well in these three games so we can have some momentum heading into the All-Star break.”

Braun hit a solo shot and Kevin Mench a three-run drive in a four-run first inning against Mike Bacsik (2-6). Milwaukee has homered in 15 consecutive games, its longest streak since a 19-game run in 1996.

“It sure helps when you get four runs before you go out on the mound,” Bush said. “I can’t minimize the importance of that. It allows me to go out and relax a little bit and not worry so much about a couple of guys getting on base and pitch my game. … It set the tone for the whole day.”

Bush (7-7) improved to 4-1 in his last five starts, allowing one run and seven hits over seven innings. He walked two and matched a season high with seven strikeouts.

Ronnie Belliard homered and had four hits for the Nationals, who have dropped nine of 11. Washington has scored 14 runs in those nine defeats.

Bacsik got two quick outs in the first before Braun ripped a 2-1 pitch over the wall in center for his ninth homer and a 1-0 lead. Prince Fielder then singled and went to third on Johnny Estrada’s ground-rule double to center before Mench lofted a full-count fastball to left for a three-run homer.

Corey Hart tripled with two outs in the second, extending his hitting streak to 22 games. He scored on J.J. Hardy’s single, making it 5-0.

Braun added a solo shot in the fifth, his 10th home run in 38 games.

“He’s been pretty amazing since he’s been there,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “I saw him in spring training, and his offense wasn’t a fluke. You could tell he knows what he’s doing. You know he’s a thinker when he gets up there. He’s got a pretty good plan of attack.”

Bacsik pitched five innings, giving up a season-worst six runs and eight hits.

“My fastball was up, my changeup was flat and my curveball was inconsistent,” Bacsik said. “I had all three pitches I was fighting with today. I battled. I got through five, but that’s kind of a consolation prize at this point. The first inning killed me.”

Milwaukee prospered in the first and second innings with two outs, scoring five times.

“With the stuff that Mike has he has to be … near perfect with his location and command of his pitches,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “Obviously, he wasn’t. He was up in the zone and his stuff, when it’s up there, you’re going to get hit hard.”

Belliard ruined Bush’s shutout bid, homering with two outs in the seventh. Ryan Church scored in the eighth when Mench mishandled Austin Kearns’ single to right for an error.

Francisco Cordero got the final two outs.

Notes

Hart’s hitting streak is tied with Cecil Cooper (1980) for the third-longest in team history behind Paul Molitor (39 games in 1987) and Davey May (24 in 1973). … Washington had a runner in scoring position in five of the first six innings. … The Brewers placed OF Bill Hall on the 15-day disabled list with a high right ankle sprain and recalled OF Tony Gwynn Jr. from Triple-A Nashville. … Washington’s D’Angelo Jimenez grounded out in the seventh and is 0-for-17 as a pinch-hitter.

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