Greinke homers, Ks 10 in Brewers win
MILWAUKEE One of the reasons Zack Greinke accepted a trade to Milwaukee was because he wanted to be able to hit on a regular basis. He loves discussing hitting with everyone.
Turns out, he can back up all that chatter, too.
Greinke hit the go-ahead homer and struck out 10 over seven innings, leading the Brewers to a 6-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday for their season-best sixth straight victory.
"I talk about it all the time," said Greinke, who rarely got chances to hit when he was in the AL in Kansas City. "It's more fun playing (this) way, I like it, it feels like you're doing more in the game."
Prince Fielder drove in four runs for the Brewers, who are the hottest team in baseball over the last two weeks with 13 wins in 16 games.
They've also been dominant at Miller Park with nine consecutive victories at home — one short of their franchise-best mark set in 1979 — after completing sweeps of Pittsburgh, Colorado and Washington.
"I felt all along our team would go on a roll somewhere," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I didn't know where it would be or when it would be."
Michael Morse hit his third homer in three days for the Nationals, who limped home on a season-worst five-game skid.
"It was a terrible road trip. We were 1-7. That's a bad road trip," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said.
Greinke (3-1) struck out at least one batter each inning.
The 2009 AL Cy Young winner mixed a mid-90s fastball with two breaking balls, including a curve that dipped as low as 62 mph when Jerry Hairston awkwardly waved at it to end the fourth.
His only hiccup came earlier in the inning.
Jayson Werth singled, Laynce Nix doubled and Morse hit a three-run shot to left-center field that tied it 3-all. Then, just as quickly as Washington scored, Greinke retired the next three batters and 12 of his final 13. He ended his outing by striking out pinch hitter Rick Ankiel for his 10th career game of at least 10 strikeouts.
"This is Zack. When I've seen Zack good, this is what he does," Roenicke said. "He can elevate to a level where I don't care what offense we're facing, he can shut them down."
Reliever LaTroy Hawkins gave up a sacrifice fly to Nix in the eighth that cut it to 5-4 before leaving for Kameron Loe, who struck out Morse to end the inning.
Yuniesky Betancourt gave Milwaukee a 6-4 lead with a two-out, run-scoring double in the eighth and Loe pitched the ninth for his first save after closer John Axford had thrown four of the previous five days.
Greinke swung at the first pitch he saw from Jason Marquis (5-2) in the fifth, hitting a towering fly ball down the left-field line to give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead.
"I thought it was foul at first, but it didn't end up curving," Greinke said.
Greinke is now 6 of 32 for his career at the plate with two RBIs.
"He's always talking about doing that. He did it. It was pretty cool," Fielder said. "I think he's got some bragging rights now."
Fielder doubled in two runs in the first and then followed with a sacrifice fly in the third to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead as Marquis struggled with command for a second straight outing.
Fielder added an RBI single in the seventh off Sean Burnett that gave the Brewers a 5-3 lead. Fielder leads the NL with 41 RBIs.
"It's good. Guys are getting on base, which is good," Fielder said. "There's going to be a lot of opportunities. I think that's the start of it. If there's nobody on base, you can't drive anybody in."
Morse has hit five homers and driven in 12 runs in six career games at Miller Park after also hitting a solo shot on Monday and his first career grand slam on Tuesday, but the Nationals are seven games under .500 now.
"I have some ideas, obviously, and some thoughts that I don't really want to share with the world right now," Werth said of what needs to change. "I think it's pretty obvious what's going on around here. I'm not going to get into it right now. It is what it is. It's unfortunate. We're a way better ball club."
Greinke's only other home run came on June 10, 2005, when he also gave up a career-high 11 runs in a loss to Arizona.
"My first two years of interleague, we only got about six at-bats a year, and all I could think about was hitting and maybe that messed up my pitching," Greinke said. "I think I avoid that now."
Milwaukee is an NL-best 19-6 at home, but the Giants should be a tougher challenge when they come to town beginning Friday. Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum pitches the series opener against Shaun Marcum, who has been Milwaukee's best starter so far this year.
"It's going to be a big challenge," Fielder said. "They're a great team, but we've been playing good. Hopefully we can come out on top."
NOTES: The Brewers claimed INF Josh Wilson off waivers from Arizona and transferred RHP Takashi Saito to the 60-day DL. ... Brewers OF Nyjer Morgan (broken finger) is expected to be activated Friday from the 15-day disabled list. ... Brewers INF/OF Erick Almonte (concussion) will head to extended spring training in Arizona on Saturday. He's previously been cleared to return to all activities, but has acknowledged being frustrated at the time it's taking him to get back.