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Brewers fall to Nationals; lose ground in wild-card race

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Brewers logo-dark background  (properly sized)
Brewers logo-dark background (properly sized)

Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond hit three-run home runs, while Gio Gonzalez picked up his major-league leading 20th win, as the Washington Nationals ripped the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-4, in the second edition of a four-game set.

Adam LaRoche homered among his three hits and drove in two for the Nationals, who recovered from a 4-2 defeat in Friday's series opener to win for the third time in five games overall.

Gonzalez (20-8) yielded two runs and three hits in seven strong innings to become the first Washington left-hander to win 20 since Earl Whitehill in 1933. He also fanned five, becoming the first Washington-based pitcher to strike out 200 batters in a season since Walter Johnson in 1916.

"It doesn't feel like a 20th win for myself. It feels like a 20th win for the team," Gonzalez admitted. "This is a childhood dream, but to do it with a team like this, that's in first place, makes it that much better."

The Nats, who already clinched a playoff berth, saw their magic number to win the NL East reduced to six.

Taylor Green hit a late two-run shot for the Brewers, whose six-game win streak came to an end. Milwaukee fell 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis, which won at Chicago earlier Saturday, in the race for the final NL wild card slot.

Wily Peralta (2-1) lasted just 2 2/3 frames, allowing five hits and three runs, with four walks and as many strikeouts.

Already up by three, the hosts' advantage ballooned to 9-0 in the fourth facing former Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez. Jayson Werth singled and Bryce Harper walked and both scored on Zimmerman's three-run shot to left. LaRoche and Michael Morse followed with singles and Desmond chased them home with another three-run homer.

Milwaukee got on the board with two in the sixth on Ryan Braun's groundout and an Aramis Ramirez sacrifice fly, but LaRoche began the home half with a long homer to center for a 10-2 score.

In the ninth, Jeff Bianchi singled with one out and Green's homer cut the deficit to 10-4.

"Right now, I really don't feel like we'd have to win every single game the for the rest of the season. But I tell you what: -- we better win almost all of them," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Washington picked up three runs in the third on RBI doubles from Harper and LaRoche, plus a Jean Segura throwing error on a Desmond single that allowed LaRoche to cross the plate.

The Brewers and Nationals play Sunday at 12noon CT on AM-550 FM-99.9 WSAU.

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