Nationals race past Brewers thanks to big first inning

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper rounds second on a double against the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper rounds second on a double against the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Matt Garza was knocked out in the first inning of his shortest major league start, and Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos drove in three runs apiece to lead the Washington Nationals over the Milwaukee Brewers 8-3 Saturday night.

Garza (6-7) faced eight batters and got just one out, allowing four singles, a double and two walks in the shortest of his 211 big league starts dating to 2006. His previous low was 1 1-3 innings at the Marlins on June 18, 2010, according to STATS.

Garza had been 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA in his previous eight outings, but Saturday’s effort caused his season ERA to rise from 3.69 to 4.04. He dropped to 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals.

Tanner Roark (9-6) gave up one runs and six hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. In his first full season as a starter, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of 19 outings.

Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the Brewers, tied with St. Louis atop the NL Central.

Denard Span led off the first with a single and, after Anthony Rendon struck out, Werth blooped a double to right.

Adam LaRoche’s walked loaded the bases, and Zimmerman bounced a single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.

Bryce Harper’s eight-pitch walk reloaded the bases, Ian Desmond’s dribbler for an infield single drove in a run and Ramos chased Garza with a two-run single. Ramos is 24 for 61 (.393) with nine RBIs in his last 17 games.

Milwaukee got a run in the second when Jonathan Lucroy doubled, stole third and scored when Ramos’s throw skipped into left field for third first of two errors by the catcher.

Run-scoring singles by Ramos in the third and Zimmerman in the fourth made it 7-1 against Marco Estrada, whp pitched 5 2-3 innings of relief. Zimmerman is 26 for 75 (.347) with 17 RBIs since June 24.

LaRoche added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

NOTES: Washington manager Matt Williams said RHP Jordan Zimmermann, who left his last start in the fourth inning due to a right biceps cramp, threw a good bullpen session Saturday and is to start Tuesday at Colorado. … Milwaukee RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.68) opposes LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.56) in Sunday’s series finale. … Singer Austin Mahone, on hand to perform a postgame concert, threw the ceremonial first pitch.

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