WASHINGTON - This time, the "sun monster" helped Jayson Werth's Washington Nationals and hurt the Milwaukee Brewers.
A day after the Nationals misplayed a pair of fly balls in the midday glare, Werth wound up with a two-out, two-run double when Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez lost a ball in the sun to spark a big fourth inning Monday. Washington beat Milwaukee 12-2 to cut its magic number for winning the NL East to five.
The Nationals improved to a majors-best 93-60 and increased their division lead over Atlanta to five games with nine to play. Marco Estrada (4-7 ) lasted only four innings for the Brewers, who entered the day 2 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card berth.
The Nationals finished with 14 hits; five players had at least two apiece.
With the score tied 1-1 in the fourth, Danny Espinosa doubled and went to third on a balk, but was thrown out at home by Hart on Roger Bernadina's grounder. Later, Zimmermann's RBI single gave Washington a 2-1 lead.
It grew to 4-1 moments later when Werth hit a high fly that could have been the third out - but Gomez couldn't find it. Gomez paused and held his glove up to try to shade his view, then suddenly scrambled to his left and tried to make a diving catch. The ball smacked off the dark sweat band on his left wrist and trickled away for what was ruled a two-run double.
After Harper walked and joined Werth in a double steal, Zimmermann sent a three-run shot to right-center for his 24th homer and a 7-1 lead.
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