Brewers rally in 9th to topple Nationals, 4-2

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez had consecutive RBI hits in the ninth inning off Nationals closer Tyler Clippard and the Milwaukee Brewers extended their season-high winning streak to six games with a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The victory combined with a St. Louis loss moved the Brewers within 1 1-2 games of the Cardinals for the final wild card berth in the National League.

Held to one run over eight innings against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, the Brewers scored three against Clippard (2-6). Norichika Aoki led off with bunt single, took second on a passed ball by catcher Jesus Flores and moved to third on Rickie Weeks’ fly ball out.

Braun followed with a single to left, scoring Aoki. He then stole second and came around to score the go-ahead run on Ramirez’s double to left. Ramirez scored on Travis Ishikawa’s infield single.

Jose Veras (5-4) worked one inning in relief and John Axford pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.

Despite the loss, Washington’s magic number for clinching the NL East fell to seven following Atlanta’s loss at Philadelphia. On Thursday the Nationals clinched the first postseason berth by a Washington baseball team since 1933.

Clippard only got two outs and allowed three runs on four hits in his fifth blown save on the season.

Jackson efficiently limited the Brewers before being removed by a pinch-hitter, allowing one run over eight innings, scattering six hits with six strikeouts on 101 pitches. He did not issue a walk for the first time since May 13 at Cincinnati.

Adam LaRoche’s two-run homer in the first inning gave Washington the early lead and Bryce Harper’s defense kept it that way until the ninth.

The blown save denied Jackson’s bid at becoming the fifth Nationals’ starter with at least 10 wins this season.

In his longest and most effective start since returning from the disabled list in August, Brewers starter Shaun Marcum (5-5) worked six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts. He silenced Washington’s bats after LaRoche’s homer, surrendering only two base hits after the first inning.

With Ryan Zimmerman on first base after a two-out single, LaRoche turned on a 1-1 pitch from Marcum and parked it over the right field wall for his 31st home run, putting Washington ahead 2-0.

Lucroy cut the lead in half leading off the second with a towering solo home run to left off Jackson, who responded by striking out the side.

The strong-armed Harper kept the Brewers from tying the game in the fourth.

Braun led off the top of the inning with a double and Ramirez followed with a single to center. With Braun rounding third, Harper charged the grounder and threw a strike to catcher Jesus Flores, who blocked the plate and tagged out the Brewers sliding left fielder.

Ramirez took second on the play and moments later had the opportunity to test the 19-year-olds arm after Lucroy’s base hit to center. He declined, remaining on third. Jackson escaped the inning by inducing Ishikawa into a ground ball double play.

Jean Segura singled against Jackson with one-out in the eighth inning. Trying to steal second, Segura was thrown out by Flores on the back-end of a double play as pinch-hitter Corey Hart struck out.