WASHINGTON (AP) — An effective start by Yovani Gallardo on Monday night would have provided a respite for the taxed Milwaukee bullpen and could have increased his trade value should the Brewers opt to listen to teams looking to add a pitcher before the July 31 deadline.
It didn't happen. Not even close.
Gallardo lasted just three-plus innings, Bryce Harper homered on his first swing since coming off the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals beat the slumping Brewers 10-5.
Rickie Weeks and Juan Francisco hit solo homers as Milwaukee managed 11 hits and rallied from down 8-0 to within 8-5 late in the game.
The Brewers, missing injured slugger Ryan Braun, arrive at the midway point of the season with a six-game losing streak and a 32-49 record, just two games better than Miami's NL-worst 30-51 mark.
"We're not putting everything together. You're not going to win like that," center fielder Carlos Gomez said. "(If) we're pitching, we're not hitting. When we hit, we're not pitching. It doesn't work like that."
It was the second straight poor start for Gallardo (6-8). He gave up eight runs and nine hits while striking out two and walking two.
"The ball's up. That's about it," Gallardo said. "I'm just leaving pitches up in the zone. I get two strikes and I'm not able to put guys away."
With the Brewers' bullpen spent after Sunday's 14-inning loss to Pittsburgh, the right-hander was left to fend for himself until he was pulled after the first three Nationals batters got hits in the fourth inning. His ERA rose from 4.20 to 4.78.
"Anytime you score five runs you should be able to get a win no matter what," Gallardo said. "Especially tonight, I didn't go out and do what I was supposed to do, which is frustrating."
Burke Badenhop and former Nationals left-hander Tom Gorzelanny combined for four scoreless innings of relief. Trailing by eight, Milwaukee scored a pair in the fifth and sixth innings and had the potential tying run on deck after scoring one run in the seventh.
"I like the way (that when) we got down a lot the guys kept fighting and made it interesting," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We got to a point where we thought we were at least back in the ballgame."
The Nationals answered with two in the eighth.
Sean Halton and Aramis Ramirez had a double and a single apiece for the Brewers.
After missing 31 games with bursitis in his left knee — the most lingering fallout from his collision with the Dodger Stadium wall — Harper energized the Nationals and sparked their second rout in two days. After toying with .500 for the entire month of June, Washington moved two games above the break-even mark for the first time since late May.
Jayson Werth had five RBIs, and even pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was an offensive juggernaut with a team-high three hits, including a double to start a five-run third inning and a single to open a two-run fourth and end Gallardo's night.
"He's not consistently throwing the ball where he wants to, which he's always been able to do," Roenicke said. "And when he's still trying to hit corners when he's behind, he gets really behind and then they're sitting on fastballs."
Working with an 8-0 lead, Zimmermann (12-3) pitched six innings and allowed four runs to tie unbeaten Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for the major league lead in wins.
The Nationals, perhaps finally finding their stride after a middling first half of the season, have won five of seven to pull within six games of first-place Atlanta in the NL East.
Batting third and playing left field, Harper launched the second pitch he saw — a fastball from Gallardo — into the visitors' bullpen beyond left field for an opposite-field homer.
The solo shot was Harper's 13th homer of the season and 24th RBI. The 20-year-old slugger hurt his knee in Los Angeles on May 13 and reinjured it several times over the following two weeks before going on the 15-day disabled list
The Nationals improved to 26-19 when Harper plays; they are 16-21 when he doesn't.
NOTES: Brewers RHP Kyle Lohse will make his next start Wednesday on two days' rest. Lohse started Sunday, but went only 1 2-3 innings before a 2-hour rain delay. ... Johnny Hellweg, normally a starter, pitched the eighth inning and allowed two runs, one earned. "I really liked the way he threw the ball," Roenicke said. "He attacked the guys, showed his best stuff and we didn't make some plays behind him."