Nationals go deep, extend Brewers losing streak to 7 games

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WASHINGTON — Josh Bell and Keibert Ruiz hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning, and the Washington Nationals beat Milwaukee 11-5 on Friday night, extending the Brewers’ losing streak to a game-high seven games. season.

Nelson Cruz and Maikel Franco also homered for the Nationals, who hit a three-game skid in the opener of a 10-day, 11-game homestand.

Washington’s 19 hits were the best since posting a season-high 22 in San Francisco on April 29.

Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, who is one win away from tying Phil Garner for the franchise record for wins as a manager, was ejected in the fifth inning during the Brewers’ frustrating last outing. Milwaukee scored 14 points on their slide.

“Offense, throwing, defense, base run, bullpen, starters – we haven’t been very good in a lot of those areas,” Counsell said. “That’s why we end up with a losing streak.”

It’s Milwaukee’s longest slip since losing seven in a row from July 11-20, 2018.

The Nationals’ biggest outburst came in the sixth, when they took a 6-3 lead. Bell hit a three-run homer off reliever Miguel Sánchez and, after a conference on the mound, Ruiz hit his second homer of the season on the first pitch he saw.

Counsell was gone by then. He argued with plate umpire Ramon De Jesus after back-to-back pitches against Victor Robles in the fifth — first when he argued that Robles touched a live ball and should be out, then when the swing de Robles hit receiver Omar Narváez as he tried to throw at Luis García on a steal attempt at second.

García was fired first, but Robles ultimately chose left, prompting Counsell to come out to fire starter Aaron Ashby (1-5). He stepped up his dialogue with De Jesus on the way to the mound and was quickly ejected.

“Robles hit the ball with his bat with a pitch into the dirt,” Counsell said. “The batter is out if that happens. Ramon said that didn’t happen, and I think it did. The fact that they didn’t see it was a mistake, in my opinion.

Ashby drove in six runs and 13 hits — five on 0-2 counts — and lost consecutive starts for the first time this season.

Cruz capped a four-hit night, his first since playing for Tampa Bay Sept. 7, with a solo homer in the eighth. It happened a day after he was dropped from training.

“I don’t know if it was my oblique, my back, my ribs,” Cruz said. “It was something that was painful enough even to breathe. I was praying pretty well last night, and I guess God listened and I woke up brand new.

Jace Peterson hit a two-run homer in the second and added a sacrificial fly in the fourth against Washington starter Erick Fedde (4-4), who otherwise had minimal issues in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits and struck out four.

Franco’s solo home run in the fourth quarter extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Brewers: Milwaukee activated Narváez from the disabled list (COVID-19) and placed C Alex Jackson (sprained left middle finger) on the 10-day disabled list. … 2B Kolten Wong (right calf pain) was out of the lineup for the third straight game.

Nationals: RHP Aníbal Sánchez (Cervical Nerve Impact), who is yet to pitch this season, threw a light bullpen session.

Brewers: LHP Eric Lauer (5-1, 2.38 ERA) pitched seven innings against Washington on May 20 and is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in five lifetime starts against the Nationals.

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (2-8, 6.71) is coming off a victory in Cincinnati on Sunday and will be looking for back-to-back starts for the first time since June 15-20 of last year.

More AP MLB coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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