Fielder, Hardy homer as Brewers beat Nationals


• Summary: Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy both homered and the Brewers beat the Nationals for their fifth straight victory.

• Turning point: With a 1-2 count Fielder hit a three-run homer in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie.


height=90 align=right alt="Prince Fielder">



• Hero: Fielder's 10th blast of the year went deep into the Nationals bullpen.

• Unsung hero: Hardy extended his winning streak to 19 games.

• Figure this: The Brew Crew have the best record in baseball at 23-10.

• Quotable: "It never gets old. We're just trying to keep it going as long as we can." -- Fielder

-- news services

Brewers 6, Nationals 4

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jason Simontacchi said he threw the inside fastball to let Prince Fielder know he wasn't scared to come in on him. He called it an "effect pitch."

But Simontacchi's pitch tailed back toward the plate and certainly had an effect on Fielder, who was looking for a fastball and drove it into the Nationals' bullpen for a three-run homer in Milwaukee's 6-4 victory over Washington on Tuesday night.

"It never gets old," Fielder said. "We're just trying to keep it going as long as we can."

J.J. Hardy also homered and extended his hitting streak to 19 games and the red-hot Brewers won their fifth straight. They wrap up a 10-game homestand on Wednesday.

"It's been unbelievable, especially this homestand where we're 8-1," said Francisco Cordero, who saved his 14th game in as many chances despite giving up his first run in 15 2/3 innings to inflate his ERA to 0.57. "We're pitching great, we're hitting great, we've got a great defense and we're in first place."

Milwaukee, with the best record in baseball at 23-10, spoiled Simontacchi's return to the majors. Simontacchi (0-1) had not appeared in the big leagues since 2004. He spent the entire 2005 season recovering from shoulder surgery and 2006 in the minors.

"I was pretty excited to be finally back up here and again living the dream we've been trying to get to since we were kids," said Simontacchi, who went 20-10 with a 4.77 ERA in three seasons with St. Louis. "It's just the results weren't too good."

Simontacchi, called up earlier Tuesday, had the top three in the lineup -- Rickie Weeks, Fielder and Hardy -- fooled early with his deceptive changeup.

The trio was a combined 0-for-5 until the sixth, when Weeks led off with a single up the middle, and Hardy extended his hitting streak with a double off the left field wall.

"Nineteen in a row? Oh yeah, I forgot for a second," Hardy joked. "I'm not a huge fan of it, it's a little bit of added pressure I don't feel I need."

Simontacchi got ahead of Fielder 0-2 with the changeup, but when the right-hander tried to sneak a 1-2 fastball by the young slugger, he drove it deep into the Nationals bullpen for his 10th homer of the year to put the Brewers up 4-1.

"I tried to come in off the plate, just for an effect pitch, just to let him know we'd come in," Simontacchi said. "You can look at it in hindsight and say what kind of pitches you want to throw. But my mindset was just to go in off the plate and not even get it in the strike zone."

Simontacchi was finished after the sixth, allowing six hits and a walk. He struck out two.

Milwaukee scored twice more in the eighth. Hardy's homer was his ninth this season and Johnny Estrada, who doubled home the tying run in the second, added a solo shot. Estrada finished 3-for-4, a triple shy of the cycle.

Brewers starter Dave Bush (3-3), responsible for the last two Brewers' losses, couldn't get out of the seventh after the Nationals cut the lead to 4-3 with a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Kory Casto and an RBI double by Felipe Lopez, who also hit a homer to lead off a game.

"It feels good to end up on the right side of the scoreboard," said Bush, who gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out two in 6 2/3 innings. "I made some good pitches when I needed to. It can be rough sometimes between starts, that's one of the downsides of being a starter is when you're not throwing you've got four days to sit and think about it."

Washington, already with the worst record in baseball at 9-24, will be without struggling reliever Chad Cordero for a while. Cordero left the team and was placed on the bereavement list on Tuesday to go to California to be with his grandmother, who is dying of brain cancer. Cordero, who has already blown four saves this season, said before Monday's game that he was struggling to keep his focus while playing.

The Nationals' poor start hasn't made it easy on anyone.

"I hate losing. I think everybody does," Lopez said. "Even if you're doing good. If you're a team player, it's not fun. Who cares about (accolades). ... If you're losing it really doesn't matter."

Game notes
The Nationals announced an alcohol ban from the RFK clubhouses and their clubhouse on the road, as well as flights back to Washington. The players will be allowed to drink on flights to other cities on road trips. ... Maybe it wasn't the most comfortable way to get free tickets, but the Brewers partnered with the National Prostate Cancer Coalition to offer the freebies if men received a complimentary prostate cancer screening from the mobile clinic vehicle outside the ballpark restaurant. ... The club also called up veteran 3B Tony Batista, putting P Ryan Wagner (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list and designating INF Josh Wilson for assignment.