WASHINGTON — Wilson Ramos hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning Thursday in his Fourth of July return to the Washington Nationals, leading an 8-5 matinee win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Back after missing 44 games with a strained left hamstring, Ramos had three hits and a career-high five RBIs as the Nationals earned a split of the four-game series and moved back above .500 in their seesaw season.
Ian Desmond, moved to the No. 2 spot in a lineup "epiphany" from manager Davey Johnson, had three hits, stole two bases and scored two runs. Taylor Jordan allowed two runs over 5 2-3 innings in his second major league start, and Drew Storen (3-2) got the win despite blowing a 5-2 lead by allowing two home runs in the seventh inning.
Ramos and the Nationals quickly bailed out Storen with a two-out rally. Jayson Werth, bumped to No. 6 in the lineup, singled off Tom Gorzelanny (1-1). Manager Ron Roenicke then brought in Brandon Kintzler to face Anthony Rendon in a righty-righty matchup.
The move backfired. Kintzler walked Rendon, then had a 1-0 slider put in the left field stands by Ramos, who gave the fans a curtain call.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.
On a star-spangled day in the nation's capital, the game began at 11:06 a.m. and featured a national anthem sang by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a new "Freedom Song" performed by Neil Diamond.
Johnson had a mood worthy of a holiday before the game, despite the Nationals' recent hitting woes. He joked that he was "going crazy" figuring out how to get the bats going and said he was "having a problem" with his Ouija board.
Asked why he was batting Desmond second instead of the shortstop's usual spot at No. 6, the manager said: "I don't know. Because I'm supposed to do something. I had an epiphany last night about 9:30 and I called Desi, and I said, `Desi, I'm changing something.'"
Desmond singled, stole second and scored to ignite scoring rallies in both the first and third innings. His hit in the third was a bunt single. He also beat out a grounder for an infield hit in the fifth.
While Desmond was moved up, Werth was moved down, and the move paid off at both ends. Werth had three hits and scored twice.
Milwaukee's Donovan Hand allowed three runs over five innings in his third major league start. Burke Badenhop allowed two runs in the sixth to make the score 5-2.
But Brewers tied it in the seventh with Yuniesky Betancourt's solo homer and Carlos Gomez's two-run shot. Both came off Storen, who gave up four runs in the eighth inning Tuesday and took the loss.
NOTES: Ramos must love national celebration days. His last three-hit game came on Cinco de Mayo. ... Desmond was doing so well that he was intentionally walked to put Bryce Harper at the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth. Harper grounded out to first, and he is 1 for 15 since returning from a knee injury, and the only hit was a home run in his first at-bat. ... The Brewers were hurt by minor league mistakes. They failed to execute a rundown when Harper was caught between first and second in the third inning, and Juan Francisco strayed too far off first and was thrown out by the cutoff man after an RBI single in the sixth.
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