Brewers' Sheets tosses five-hitter en route to first win since July 4; Braun hurt

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ben Sheets went the distance to ensure his first victory in more than a month.

Sheets pitched a five-hitter for his first win since July 4, leading the Milwaukee Brewers over the Washington Nationals 6-0 Saturday night.

Sheets (11-5) tied teammate CC Sabathia for the NL lead in complete games with four. He struck out six and helped extend the Nationals' scoreless streak to 22 innings. Sabathia's fourth complete game came Friday when he stopped the Nationals 5-0.

"That guy was tough and that guy yesterday was tough, too," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "That's frontline pitching right there. He [Sheets] was overpowering."

Sheets' assessment of his success following Sabathia's was a bit more humble.

"That's good," said Sheets who threw 113 pitches, 78 for strikes, in his third career shutout. "We need that. I'm just glad to get past the sixth inning again."

He went six innings in his previous start and 5 1/3 the one before that. Both were losses.

Ray Durham and J.J. Hardy hit back-to-back homers off Washington starter Tim Redding (8-7) in the fourth for the Brewers, who moved four games behind the Cubs after Chicago lost 12-3 to St. Louis.

Corey Hart hit a solo shot in the fifth as Milwaukee won for the sixth time in eight games after losing five straight.

Acta said that Redding pitched behind while he was out there, and it cost him.

"This is not the club you want to pitch behind," Acta said. "They've got some guys that can bang the ball around."

The only bad news for Milwaukee was the loss of All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun. He left the game in the bottom of the third because of tightness in his lower back and is listed day to day.

"I took kind of an awkward swing," he said. "I think it might be some kind of muscle spasm or something. I couldn't breathe. So, we'll see how it feels tomorrow morning."

Sheets went a stretch of six starts before earning the victory, winning for the first time since the Brewers acquired Sabathia on July 7.

Sheets scattered three hits over the first seven innings then gave up two more in the eighth.

"Everything was a little sharper," Sheets said of his command and control. "I made some adjustments and the adjustments paid off."

Ronnie Belliard, who singled leading off the third, led off the eighth with a hit. Willie Harris followed with a double to the wall but Sheets retired the next three batters.

For Sheets, the key was getting the ball in play early in the count and let the defense take it from there.

"I'd rather put a good pitch in play, make one good pitch to a batter and get an out," he said. "Sometimes when they swing and miss, you have to do three of them."

Pinch-hitter Pete Orr's double over the head of left fielder Gabe Kapler in the sixth and a single by Lastings Milledge in the seventh were Washington's other hits.

Sheets made it 6-0 with a run-scoring blooper into short-center field. Jason Kendall doubled and scored on Sheets' fifth RBI this season.

With the victory, the four-time All-Star right-hander avoided losing three straight starts since dropping a career-worst five straight April 9-June 2, 2005.

Hardy hit his 17th homer of the season and second in two games, while Durham hit his first for the Brewers. Durham was acquired from San Francisco on July 20 for outfielder Darren Ford and lefty Steve Hammond.

Kapler pinch-hit for Braun and drove in the Brewers' first run with an RBI single in the bottom of the third. Hart added a sacrifice fly.

Redding allowed five runs and seven hits over five innings. He walked five and struck out three, losing his bid for consecutive road victories for the first time since winning his first three road starts to open the season.

Game notes
Milledge's single extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... A crowd of 42,974 gave the Brewers their 13th consecutive sellout and 29th this season. ... The first four hitters in the Nationals' lineup went 0-for-16. ... It was the 17th time this season the Nationals have been held scoreless.