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Nationals-Brewers Preview

AP - Sports

Ryan Zimmerman got out of his recent funk in dramatic style, putting the Washington Nationals on the brink of their longest winning streak of the season.

They're also seeking a three-game series sweep in Milwaukee for the first time in eight years.

Zimmerman attempts to build on his breakout effort and lead the Nationals to a fifth straight win Wednesday against the Brewers.

Zimmerman is a career .285 hitter, but he's batting just .205 in 21 games since returning from a broken right thumb earlier this month. He was also moved to left field to ease the load on his chronic shoulder problems, allowing Anthony Rendon to play third base.

Rendon has a .333 average with seven homers and 17 RBIs over his last 21 games.

Zimmerman, however, seemed to solve his recent struggles by getting three hits Tuesday, including a go-ahead two-run homer in a 4-2, 16-inning win at Milwaukee. He went 0 for 3 with a walk in Monday's 3-0 victory.

"I've had a rough past two weeks or so, but I kept grinding it out," Zimmerman said. "I got myself into a good count and put a good swing on the pitch."

Another strong effort from Zimmerman could help Washington (41-35) sweep a series in Milwaukee (47-32) for the first time since June 2-4, 2006.

Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.24 ERA) could also provide a boost as he tries to shake off a rare rough outing. Strasburg gave up nine hits and four runs over six innings in Friday's 6-4, 13-innings loss at Atlanta, the most earned runs he's allowed since April 15.

He had posted a 2.22 ERA over 11 consecutive quality starts since then before Friday.

He's 1-4 with a 4.22 ERA in seven road starts, but this will be the first time he takes the mound at Miller Park. Strasburg fanned eight Brewers while yielding three hits in seven innings of a 4-0 home win July 2.

The Nationals may need a similar performance from Strasburg since they used seven relievers Tuesday. He may benefit from facing a Milwaukee team that is hitting .219 while dropping five of six at home.

The Brewers went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position Tuesday.

"We had some chances and we just had some bad at-bats," manager Ron Roenicke said.

Jonathan Lucroy is giving the Brewers some offensive punch with a .361 average in his last 21 games. He's singled in each game of this series and has been waked four times, including twice intentionally in extra innings Tuesday.

He's facing Strasburg for the first time.

Milwaukee is looking for dramatic improvement from Marco Estrada (6-4, 5.22) after using six relievers Tuesday. He's lost two of his last three starts behind a 9.72 ERA, and his latest performance was his worst of the season.

The right-hander surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of Friday's 13-10 win at Colorado.

"I still think I threw the ball really well," Estrada said. "Nothing you can do about it, just keep going."

He didn't fare too well in his last start against the Nationals on Sept. 24, 2012, giving up seven runs in four innings of a 12-2 road loss - including a three-run homer to Zimmerman.

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