Pat Summitt, 1952-2016:

Nationals-Brewers Preview

AP - Sports

The Washington Nationals haven't won in Milwaukee in three years, yet they arrive at Miller Park with plenty of confidence.

The Brewers may have forgotten what that feels like.

The NL East-leading Nationals go for a season high-tying sixth straight victory Thursday night when Milwaukee looks to end its longest losing streak of 2012.

Washington was outscored 24-13 in its last trip to Milwaukee from May 23-25, 2011, and it's 0-8 there since an 8-3 win July 28, 2009. The Nationals, however, begin this four-game series a season-best 19 games above .500 after opening their trip with a sweep of the New York Mets.

Washington (58-39), leading second-place Atlanta by 4 1/2 games, hasn't been this far above the break-even mark since it was 51-32 on July 5, 2005.

The team's starters have dropped their major league-best ERA from 3.22 to 3.11 during this surge, while the club is batting .304 with 6.4 runs per game since its last loss, 4-0 to the Braves on Saturday.

"Our pitching's really good. Hitters are doing a great job, so why not have a little confidence?" slugger Michael Morse told the Nationals' official website after hitting one of the team's three homers in Wednesday's 5-2 victory.

One question the Brewers have to be asking themselves following an 0-6 trip is what to do with the closer's role after Francisco Rodriguez blew his second save in three games in Wednesday's 7-6 10-inning loss to Philadelphia.

Manager Ron Roenicke could give the job back to John Axford, who has five consecutive scoreless appearances since getting booed off the Miller Park mound in a 3-2 loss to St. Louis on July 16.

"I haven't been around the game much, but this is the worst road trip I think I've ever been on, the most disheartening and heartbreaking, too," Axford said.

A season-low nine games below .500, the Brewers (44-53) will give the ball to Yovani Gallardo (8-7, 3.72 ERA) as they try to avoid their first seven-game skid since April 30-May 6, 2011.

"We just have to turn things around to stay close, and then have that good stretch and make a run for it," Gallardo, who has won his last three home decisions, told the Brewers' official website after giving up four runs - all in the first inning - in Saturday's 6-2 loss at Cincinnati.

Milwaukee has won 14 of 21 at home, but Washington's 30-20 road record is tied with Atlanta for the best in the majors.

The Nationals will look to improve that mark with Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73) on the mound.

The right-hander took the loss Saturday, but his nine strikeouts and seven strong innings were a step in the right direction after posting a 10.54 ERA in his previous three outings.

Jackson last faced the Brewers on Aug. 30, when he threw seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 road win while with St. Louis.

Ryan Braun, 3 for 12 with two doubles off Jackson, hit .440 (11 for 25) with his NL-leading 27th and 28th homers on the trip. Braun was 8 for 21 versus Washington last season.

Brewers right fielder Corey Hart hit four homers in the Nationals' last visit, including a career-high three to back Gallardo in an 11-3 victory May 23, 2011.

Morse had team highs with three homers and nine RBIs against Milwaukee in 2011.

Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is batting .432 (19 for 44) during an 11-game hitting streak, and his only hit in five at-bats against Gallardo is a home run.

The home team has won the last nine games between these clubs.

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