The Milwaukee Brewers' longest skid of the season has ended, and so too, apparently, has the belief they can still contend for a playoff spot.
Hoping to build on their latest victory, the Brewers look to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a week Saturday night against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
Rookie Mike Fiers pitched 6 1-3 strong innings while Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each hit two-run homers Friday to help Milwaukee (45-54) snap a seven-game losing streak with a 6-0 win over Washington (59-40). The victory came hours after the Brewers traded ace Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and two minor league pitchers.
With the Brewers struggling to remain in postseason contention and Greinke likely to seek a hefty contract when he becomes a free agent after this season, general manager Doug Melvin felt trading the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was the smart move for the small-market franchise.
"It's not something I hoped to do at this time of the year,'' Melvin said. "I had hoped to be in a position to maybe acquire a player. That's the way the game goes sometimes.''
On Friday at least, the Brewers looked like contenders.
After Milwaukee pitchers posted a 7.13 ERA in the previous four contests, Fiers and two relievers combined on a four-hitter to snap Washington's six-game winning streak.
"We could tell by the way we were hitting, if (Fiers) kept throwing it over, we were going to have a hard time scoring," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.
Ramirez is batting .369 with three homers and 16 RBIs in his last 20 games. He's 5 for 10 with two doubles and a home run against scheduled Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann (7-6, 2.31 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA in six starts since losing at Baltimore on June 22.
Making his first career appearance against the Brewers, the right-hander from Auburndale, Wisc., had his string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings come to an end when he allowed a fourth-inning solo homer to David Wright on Monday. That was the only run Zimmermann gave up in six innings of an 8-2, 10-inning win at New York on Monday.
"Every time you have a good start, you feel good," Zimmermann told the Nationals' official website. "I mean, you always want to carry it over to the next start, and I have a pretty good streak going right now.
"Everything's been working, so hopefully it continues."
Milwaukee counters with Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.46), who is 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA in his last three starts. The veteran left-hander gave up a pair of solo homers and three other hits over six innings, but closer Francisco Rodriguez allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss at Philadelphia on Monday.
Wolf is 9-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 21 starts against the Nationals franchise but has not faced them since 2010.
Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is 4 for 11 against Wolf, but 1 for 12 with six strikeouts in his last three games overall.