Brewers 4, Nationals 2: Ryan Braun had an RBI single among his three hits and came around to score on Aramis Ramirez's run-scoring double in the ninth inning as visiting Milwaukee erupted late to win its season-high sixth straight game.
Jonathan Lucroy belted a solo homer and Travis Ishikawa capped the three-run ninth inning with an RBI single for the Brewers, who have won 24 of their last 30 contests to move within 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card. The Cardinals dropped a 5-4 decision in 11 innings to the Chicago Cubs earlier on Friday.
After starter Edwin Jackson tossed eight solid innings, the Brewers got untracked against closer Tyler Clippard (2-6). Norichika Aoki extended his hitting streak to 11 games by leading off the ninth with a bunt single before advancing on a passed ball. Braun followed two batters later with an RBI single and scored the go-ahead run after Ramirez ripped a fastball from Clippard down the left-field line for a double.
The Nationals remained 5 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta, but reduced their magic number for winning the division to seven after the Braves dropped a 6-2 decision to Philadelphia on Friday.
Jose Veras (5-4) picked up the win after tossing one scoreless inning. John Axford retired the side in the ninth for his 32nd save.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Bryce Harper kept Washington's slim 2-1 advantage with a defensive gem in the fourth inning. The rookie center fielder charged the ball on Ramirez's single and unleashed a dart to catcher Jesus Flores to throw out Braun at the plate. ... Prior to the game, the Toronto Blue Jays traded C Yorvit Torrealba to the Brewers for cash considerations. Should the Brewers qualify for the postseason, however, Torrealba would not be eligible to be on Milwaukee's roster. ... LaRoche opened the scoring in the first inning after launching an offspeed pitch from starter Shaun Marcum over the wall in right field for his 31st homer.