Zimmerman's two-run homer sparks Nats' rally

" Hero: Ryan Zimmerman's two-run shot sparked Washington's sixth-inning comeback.

" Brewer killer: Nats starter Tim Redding won his first start since July 24, 2004, when he beat Milwaukee with Houston. Redding's last victory, earned in relief on Sept. 26, 2004, was also against the Brewers.

" Figure this: Milwaukee failed to go yard for the first time in 17 games, putting an end to its longest streak since a 19-game stretch July 11-30, 1996.

" Winning ways: Despite the loss, the Brewers head into the All-Star break in first place for the first since time their A.L. pennant season of '82, when they led the A.L. East by percentage points.

-- ESPN.com news services

Nationals 7, Brewers 2

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ryan Zimmerman finally feels like he's regaining his power stroke, while Tim Redding was just happy to have something to show for his efforts.

Zimmerman's two-run homer ignited a six-run rally in the sixth inning, Redding won as a starter for the first time in almost three years and the Washington Nationals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 on Sunday.

"This past week, I've felt better than I have all year," Zimmerman said. "I'm taking pitches that I was swinging at before and I'm really starting to work the count a little bit. It's just all part of the learning process."

Redding (1-1) had not prevailed in a start since July 24, 2004, for Houston against Milwaukee. His last victory, in relief on Sept. 26, 2004, also came against the Brewers for the Astros. Redding went six innings, allowing two runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out one.

The right-hander's day began ominously when his cleat caught in the mound clay during his windup while he was pitching from the stretch against the game's third batter. Redding was called for a balk, one of his few miscues on the afternoon.

"It feels good," he said. "I definitely missed that feeling -- winning at this level and helping the ballclub. ... We can go into this break feeling good about ourselves."

The Nationals, who won a second consecutive game for the first time since taking three in a row from June 12-14, sent 11 batters to the plate in the sixth. They scored six times against Chris Capuano (5-6) -- their biggest inning of the season -- to erase a 2-1 deficit.

"We're capable of doing stuff like that, just not every single day," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "We need to get the guys who are struggling [offensively] going."

Felipe Lopez homered and reached base four times for Washington.

The division-leading Brewers have lost five of six, and failed to hit a home run for the first time in 17 games, ending their longest streak since a 19-game stretch July 11-30, 1996. The closest Milwaukee came to connecting was when Gabe Gross backed center fielder Nook Logan to the wall leading off the fifth.

Lopez's fourth homer, a one-out drive into the right-field bullpen in the second, put Washington ahead 1-0.

Milwaukee took the lead in the sixth on Prince Fielder's two-run double. Capuano led off with a single and moved to third on two groundouts. After Ryan Braun was hit by a pitch, Fielder doubled to the warning track in center.

Zimmerman responded with a two-run homer, his 14th, in the bottom of the inning.

Capuano walked D'Angelo Jimenez, who was 1-for-22 this season, and Zimmerman lined a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left.

Brewers manager Ned Yost was still steamed that Capuano lost Jimenez after he had him down 0-2.

"You battle back, you're struggling to score runs all day. Prince gets a big two-run double. No offense to Jimenez, but you don't walk a guy who is hitting .045," Yost said curtly. "Simple as that."

Capuano then loaded the bases, walking Austin Kearns and Lopez around Tony Batista's single, before a sacrifice fly by Ryan Church made it 4-2. Jesus Flores' infield single again filled the bases, and Capuano departed. Pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard then greeted Matt Wise with a three-run double, making it 7-2.

"I was picking around the zone a little bit," Capuano said. "I was trying to be on the attack. I just wanted aggressive in the strike zone like I needed to be."

Capuano gave up seven runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out four.

Game notes
Since winning his last game, Redding lost seven straight decisions for four clubs -- San Diego, the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the Nationals. ... Washington starters have won consecutive starts for the first time since June 8-9. ... Milwaukee turned two double plays Sunday, but still has an NL-low 68 twin-killings.