Hot-hitting Christian Yelich’s grand slam highlights Brewers’ victory over Nationals
WASHINGTON — The Milwaukee Brewers are heading home with a pair of series victories and Christian Yelich swinging one of the hottest bats in the majors.
Yelich hit his first career grand slam, Keon Broxton added a three-run homer, and Milwaukee earned a 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
Yelich hit .444 (12-for-27) with four homers and 14 RBIs during the Brewers’ 4-2 trip to Cincinnati and Washington. Milwaukee is in second place in the NL Central, five games behind Chicago, but it moved a half-game ahead of St. Louis for the first wild card spot.
“We had every kind of game you can have here,” Yelich said. “Some rain, we had some extra-inning ones with Cincinnati. Overall, it was a good trip.”
Things haven’t gone so well for Washington, which dipped back below .500 and has dropped three of its past four. The Nationals walked 11 batters Sunday, matching the team record since the club moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005.
Starter Jefry Rodriguez (2-2) issued seven walks while allowing seven runs in 4⅔ innings.
“All I was really trying to do was get ahead on the hitters and throw the ball pretty much own the middle,” he said.
It didn’t work out that way, but he wasn’t hit hard until the fifth. Working with a 4-2 lead, Rodriguez retired two of the first three batters that inning, but yielded a Manny Pina single and then Broxton’s blast to center.
Manager Dave Martinez pulled Rodriguez after another single and a walk, but reliever Tim Collins fared no better. His first six pitches were balls. Yelich hammered the seventh to left center for his 27th homer. The seven-run outburst matched Milwaukee’s highest-scoring inning of the season.
Yelich has reached base safely in 19 consecutive games and has homered nine times in that span.
“He’s clearly taken a jump in his offensive play,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “The second half has been something to behold. The home runs are coming at a pretty good pace and he’s having moments, especially on this road trip, where he’s doing kind of superhuman things, really cool things, ‘He didn’t just do that’ kind of things.”
Reliever Brandon Woodruff (3-0) pitched four scoreless innings to earn the victory.
“This is Brandon Woodruff’s game,” Counsell said. “I know Yeli hits a home run and Brox hits a three-run homer, but to deliver four innings of scoreless relief in that situation is absolutely huge.”
Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra allowed four runs in three innings.
“This trip was a good one for hitters. They hit a lot,” Guerra said. “They definitely picked us up. We got the win — that’s what matters.”
On Saturday, the Brewers blew a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning and fell 5-4 to the Nationals. Tony Saladino had pinch-hit solo homer in the ninth for the Brewers. The game was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes by rain in the top of the eighth and ended well past midnight Eastern time.
Broxton was 1-for-11 this season with runners in scoring position, including grounders to end the first and third innings, before his homer in the fifth.
“I had men on base all day today,” Broxton said. “Those are the times I’m talking about, when we need those runs. I’m glad I was able to come up the third time around and get those guys in.”
Around the horn
Milwaukee’s active roster is at 34 after recalling right-hander Corey Knebel from Class AAA Colorado Springs. ... Brewers infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin was activated from the 60-day disabled list and outrighted to Colorado Springs. ... Nationals left-hander Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw a simulated game. Martinez said he hopes Doolittle will be activated later this week. ... Right-hander Erick Fedde (shoulder), on the disabled list since July 5, will be activated and start Tuesday against St. Louis.
Right-hander Zach Davies (2-5, 5.23 ERA), back from Class A Wisconsin, hasn’t started a major league game since May 29 because of a shoulder injury and will get the ball on Monday as Milwaukee begins a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs.