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WSH@NYM: Gio dominant through six in 19th victory

The Brewers' improbable run toward a spot in the playoffs continues on Saturday against Washington at Nationals Park.

Standing in their way will be Gio Gonzalez, who fell short in his first chance to become the Majors' first 20-game winner, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks in five innings against Atlanta last Sunday.

Gonzalez will look to capitalize on his second opportunity on Saturday, hoping to draw the Nationals even in their four-game set after Milwaukee rallied for three runs in the ninth inning Friday to take a 4-2 win.

The Brewers, who are riding a six-game winning streak, enter Saturday's contest just 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the National League's second Wild Card. And while Friday's contest came without the assistance of Corey Hart, the Brewers will be at full strength on Saturday.

Hart made his return on Thursday after sitting out eight games with a left arch injury, going 1-for-3 in a 9-7 win over the Pirates. However, manager Ron Roenicke held him out of Friday's starting lineup to make sure Hart, who enters the game batting .248 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs, is ready to face Gonzalez on Saturday.

"I explained it to him that Saturday's an important game, with a left-hander," Roenicke said. "If I play him five, six innings [Friday] and he comes up sore and he can't play tomorrow, it's probably not very smart."

If Hart makes it out of Saturday without any problems, Roenicke said he'll be back in the lineup every day. Hart said he doesn't expect any issues, and he hopes to play a part in the Brewers' push for a spot in the playoffs.

"I was happy with the outcome [on Thursday]," Hart said. "I'll take it easy, but I'll be in there for the next three [games]."

Saturday's game will also be important for the Nationals, who, despite being 5 1/2 games up on the Braves in the NL East, don't have an easy road to the division crown. Washington plays the Brewers, Phillies and Cardinals to close out the year. Each of those teams is playing for its own spot in the playoffs.

The Nationals are not taking their division lead for granted, and manager Davey Johnson said he expects his players to play with the same intensity as their opponents.

"We test ourselves every day," Johnson said. "It seems that everybody we're playing has a shot to get in the playoffs. We're going to get their best foot forward. That's fine with me. My guys feel the same way. Come after us. We're going to be after them."

Brewers: Peralta looks to remain unbeaten
In three starts, the Brewers could not have asked for much more out of rookie Wily Peralta.

The 23-year-old right-hander enters Saturday's game against the Nationals at 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in four total appearances. His last outing, on Sunday against the Mets, saw him allow just two hits in eight innings on the way to a 3-0 win. Milwaukee is 3-0 in his starts, and he's quickly earned the respect of his teammates.

"I look at his stuff, I don't know how he's not the top prospect in baseball," Ryan Braun said. "He's got dominant stuff. There are very few guys who have stuff like that in Major League Baseball."

Peralta said he's feeling more and more comfortable with the Brewers, and he expects to be even better as he makes more starts.

"I'm just going to enjoy my time here and do the best I can," Peralta said. "That's what I've been doing, and I'm pretty excited about the way that I've been pitching."

Nationals: Gonzalez getting second chance
Gonzalez will look to capitalize on his second opportunity to reach 20 wins on Saturday. To do so, he'll likely need to be more efficient than he was against the Braves on Sunday, when he threw 83 pitches in his first three innings. It took him just 27 pitches to get through his final two innings.

Gonzalez said he struggled with his control at the beginning, but he was pleased he tossed more strikes to finish the game, something he hopes to do Saturday.

"I think that's where my biggest mistake today was -- I wasn't being as aggressive in the first three innings," Gonzalez said. "Then the next two, it was exactly what I should have been doing off the bat."

Worth Noting
• Friday's win moved the Brewers to 2-55 when trailing after eight innings this season.

• With his 106th RBI of the season on Friday, Braun enters Saturday leading the NL in home runs (40) and RBIs.

• The Nationals haven't had a winning record against the Brewers in a season since going 5-1 in 2006.

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