WASHINGTON -- Washington shortstop Ian Desmond, one of the most productive middle infielders in the majors, leads the Nationals in homers and RBI and has hit fifth or sixth most of the season.
But manager Davey Johnson wanting to shake things up after two straight losses, moved Desmond to the two-hole on Thursday. He responded with three hits, including a bunt single, two steals and two runs scored -- and catcher Wilson Ramos broke a seventh-inning tie with a three-run homer -- as the Nats beat the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, 8-5, to salvage a split of the four-game series.
"That came out alright," said Johnson, with a grin. "Once in a while, I have a great idea."
Jayson Werth, who has hit No. 2 most of the year, was dropped to sixth and also had three hits and two runs scored.
"I don't really mind where I hit in the lineup," said Desmond, holding his small son by his locker on the July 4 holiday afternoon. "The opportunities were there today to steal some bases."
It took a three-run, seventh-inning homer by catcher Wilson Ramos, in his first game off the DL, to break a 5-5 tie and put Washington back over .500 at 43-42. Ramos also had three hits.
"He did a great job behind the plate and at the plate," Desmond said. "He's a statement player."
Johnson said he was talking with bench coach Randy Knorr when Ramos batted in the seventh.
"He has had a good day. He may as well hit one out here," Johnson said he told Knorr.
Facing reliever Brandon Kintzler, Ramos hammered a hanging 82-mph curve over the Milwaukee bullpen to answer the Brewers' three-spot in the top of the frame. Ramos had five RBIs.
"I like the way we played," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "[But] we didn't pitch well in the bullpen today, which we've been outstanding at."
Washington rookie starting pitcher Taylor Jordan, making his second major-league appearance, went 5 2/3 innings on a humid day. The righty graduated from Merritt Island High in Florida, about 12 miles from the Nats' spring-training home in Viera.
Jordan said pitching coach Steve McCatty helped him calm him down before the game by asking him the first name of the bullpen catcher, which Jordan didn't know.
"I really didn't study that," Jordan said, with a grin. "I wish I had better command of my change. It was up and down."
Milwaukee handed him a no-decision when they rallied in the seventh on Gomez's two-run homer off reliever Drew Storen. The Brewers cut the lead to 5-3 earlier in the inning on a solo homer by Yuniesky Betancourt, also off Storen, who ended up getting the win (3-2).
Ramos had also put the Nationals up 5-2 in the sixth with a bases-loaded, two-run single off reliever Burke Badenhop.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth for Washington and Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his 22nd save.
Washington led 3-1 in the third when Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly scored Desmond. The run came after Desmond and Bryce Harper pulled a double steal.
Donovan Hand, who was making his 12th big-league appearance and third start, allowed three runs in five innings for the Brewers. Ex-Washington pitcher Tom Gorzelanny (1-1) took the loss as he gave up Werth's hit in the seventh before being lifted for Kintzler.
Notes. Brewers CF Carlos Gomez left the game in the seventh on a double switch, despite having homered in the top of the inning. "I was surprised when I got removed from the game for the double switch," Gomez said. ... Ramos was reinstated from the 15-day DL before Thursday's game. C Jhonatan Solano was sent to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for him. ... Francisco Rodriguez got his 301st save Wednesday and moved into 23rd on the all-time list. ... Milwaukee C Jonathan Lucroy entered Thursday with 40 RBI as a catcher, the second-best mark among Major League catchers ... P Lucas Giolito, a top Washington prospect, made his 2013 debut Wednesday in the Gulf Coast League, and retired one batter while allowing one hit and two runs. A first-round pick in 2012, he turns 19 July 14. "He felt great post game," Doug Harris, the Director of Player Development for the Nationals, told reporters. "He was a little amped up which is understandable. His command wasn't crisp but his stuff was very good." ... Neil Diamond performed a new tune, "Freedom Song," in the top of the fourth inning.