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MIL@PIT: Gallardo fans six over 6 2/3 scoreless

The Brewers lost an ace when they traded Zack Greinke to the Angels on July 27. Fortunately for Milwaukee, they had another one to turn to.

Yovani Gallardo enters Sunday afternoon's contest at Washington riding a streak of 10 undefeated starts, a big factor in his club's charge back into the race for the second National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers need to rebound from Saturday's 10-4 loss to the Nationals, which dropped them 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, who beat the Cubs.

Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) gave up seven runs in five innings to the Nationals on July 26, his last outing with Greinke as a teammate. The right-hander is 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA since, making the Brewers 21-10 overall in his starts.

Gallardo is tied with the Mets' R.A. Dickey for the Major League lead with 25 quality starts. On Tuesday, he held the Pirates to two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings, prompting left fielder Ryan Braun to call him, "our go-to guy."

"He's been a force to reckon with in the second half," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Nationals, who already clinched a playoff spot, have a magic number of six for the NL East title. With Saturday's win, they have lost five of their last eight.

Chien-Ming Wang will make his fifth big league start of the season and first since June 19, when the Rays reached him for five runs in 3 1/3 innings. The veteran righty has gone through two stints on the disabled list and made 15 starts at Triple-A Syracuse this season.

Manager Davey Johnson gave him the Sunday assignment because the team needs a spot starter to avoid using Jordan Zimmermann on short rest. Wang also impressed Johnson on Wednesday, when he made his first appearance for the Nats since June 30. In 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers, Wang gave up two hits and no walks and struck out one.

"Chien-Ming, I like who he is, I like what he is all about. I like his competitiveness," Johnson said on Thursday. "He has been in big games and, to me, all of these are big games. I think he will do a good job on Sunday."

Brewers: Braun hurting, but playing
Braun was in the Milwaukee lineup on Saturday afternoon and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. But that doesn't mean the left fielder's health is close to 100 percent.

Braun, bothered by groin issues, has started every game since Aug. 16, and the Brewers have played 19 games in 21 days this month. Still, manager Ron Roenicke said Braun shouldn't miss any time as long as the team "plays it smart" with its MVP candidate.

"He's going out there because we know we need him," Roenicke said on Saturday. "But he's a little sore today, but he wanted to go out there again."

• Braun is one stolen base away from his second consecutive 30/30 season and the third in franchise history. He has 29 steals and 40 home runs after posting 33 of both last year.

Nationals: No panic about Clippard
Johnson revealed before Friday's game that he will use both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen in the closer's role, despite Clippard's 32 saves this season. Then he watched Clippard have one of his toughest outings later that night, giving up three runs to blow a save in the ninth inning against the Brewers.

But Johnson said he isn't concerned about Clippard, who has allowed nine runs in his last 7 1/3 innings while Storen has come on strong in his return from injury.

"He is a very competitive young man. He doesn't like to give up anything," Johnson said. "Everybody was disappointed that we didn't get [Edwin] Jackson his 10th win. Nobody likes to have a rough outing."

• Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 with a home run on Saturday, his 14th multihit game in 26 starts since Aug. 20. Over that span, he's hitting .373 with seven homers, seven doubles and 19 RBIs.

Worth noting
• Gallardo has a 5.51 ERA in three career starts at Nationals Park.

• Wang has never pitched against the Brewers. Comments