Two first-place teams will clash in Milwaukee this week as the Nationals begin a three-game set against the Brewers.
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez will get his second start since coming off the disabled list. In his last start, Gonzalez did not figure in the decision as Washington edged the Astros, 6-5, last Wednesday night.
Gonzalez missed more than a month of action because of left shoulder inflammation. Gonzalez got off to a good start against Houston and had a 2-0 lead after three innings.
However, Gonzalez had problems in the fourth inning when the Astros scored four runs to make it a 4-2 game. Matt Dominguez highlighted the scoring with a two-run single. Gonzalez lasted five innings and allowed the four runs on five hits. Gonzalez wanted to pitch an extra inning, but manager Matt Williams wouldn't allow it.
"I felt like it was not one of my strongest outings, but it was a step in the right direction," Gonzalez said. "I'm off the DL is a great sign. The first few innings, I was trying to get the arm on top. In the fourth inning, I got ahead of the hitters, but I couldn't put them away. … It's something that I learn from, adjust the cobwebs and get back at it. It's definitely a work in progress."
Milwaukee will be returning home after finishing up a stretch in which 15 of 18 games were on the road. In its most recent road trip, the Brewers finished 6-1. Still, Miller Park will be a welcome sight.
"We've been playing well on the road, but you're always looking forward to go home," said Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez. "We just finished a great road trip now I'm looking forward to a great homestand."
The Brewers will counter Gonzales with righty Matt Garza, who has had a resurgence in the last month after an underwhelming start to the season.
Garza has hurled five straight quality starts since May 27. He held opponents to three earned runs over his last 14 2/3 innings in his last two starts, though his June 13 start against Cincinnati was marred by two throwing errors.
The Brewers were the beneficiaries of a couple Rockies gaffes over the weekend, and while they're certainly happy with the result, manager Ron Roenicke would like to see the team clean up things.
"It was a great road trip, certainly with the wins," Roenicke said. "We made some mistakes [Sunday]. There were some plays we didn't make the right way. If we're going to continue to win, we've got to play a little cleaner baseball."
Nationals: Harper set for rehab assignment starting Monday
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said he is ready to begin his rehab assignment which starts Monday with Class A Potomac. He will play at least two games for Potomac and be re-evaluated after that. Harper will be playing all three outfield positions during his rehab assignment.
The Nationals have yet to confirm that Harper is starting the rehab assignment Monday.
Harper most likely will be rejoining the Nationals when they return home on June 30 against the Rockies.
After missing almost two months of action because of a ligament tear in his left thumb, Harper is pleased that he will play baseball again.
"I'm very excited to get back out there," Harper said. "We'll see where I'm at physically. I'll try to go day by day, at-bat by at-bat. I try to work hard and get back where I need to be."
Brewers: Ramirez fine after back tightness
Manager Ron Roenicke was quick to downplay the back tightness that forced Aramis Ramirez to remove himself late in the Brewers' 9-5 win over the Rockies Saturday. As it turns out, he had good reason.
Ramirez was right back in the lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Rockies. Batting fifth for the Brewers Sunday, Ramirez hit a home run off left-hander Tyler Matzek in his first at-bat. He would finish the day 2-for-4.
Ramirez heated up on the tail end of the road trip, going 8-for-13 with five runs, five RBI, two doubles and one home run over the last three games.
He previously missed three weeks with a left hamstring strain earlier this season. Entering Sunday, he has hit .369 (24-for-65) with four home runs and 15 RBIs since being activated from the disabled list.
• This series will reunite Matt Garza with one of his rotation-mates from the 2005 Fresno State baseball team: Washington hurler Doug Fister.
• The Brewers' Carlos Gomez is riding a 35-game on-base streak and 18-game hitting streak.
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.