Nobody is feeling sorry for the Brewers. With several injuries to the middle of Milwaukee's lineup, opponents continued to throw big arms against them in late June.
Milwaukee faced Cubs ace Matt Garza (3-1, 3.83 ERA) on Thursday before a three-game set in Pittsburgh against Gerrit Cole (4-0, 3.70), Francisco Liriano (7-3, 2.23) and Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.50) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The first two games to start July at Nationals Park this week are no exception. Washington will send Jordan Zimmermann to the mound Monday, followed by Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday.
Zimmermann -- an Auburndale, Wis., native -- is tied for second in the Majors with 11 wins against three losses, and his 2.28 ERA is good for seventh in all of baseball.
Are the Brewers in a tougher-than-usual stretch of opponents?
"We are," manager Ron Roenicke said. "No question. And that's why I say when we pitch well and we're in tight games and have chances to score runs, we need to produce and get those runs in. Or we're going to keep doing what we're doing, which is losing a lot of games."
The Brewers started June 11-9 but dropped six of their last seven to end the month. They will send right-hander Yovani Gallardo to oppose Zimmermann.
Gallardo will face a Nationals lineup with Bryce Harper back in it. On Monday, Harper will be activated from the disabled list and is expected to be back in the middle of the order.
Harper has not been in Washington's lineup since May 26 and was placed on the disabled list June 1 with a left knee injury. The Nationals went 15-16 in the left fielder's absence. Harper completed a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday.
"I really think I can help the team," Harper said. "We're doing a great job right now. It's a little rough, but we're doing a great job up there. ... I can't wait to get back up there with the boys and get going and hopefully take a run at that first place."
Nationals: Detwiler could make Wednesday start
Left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler told manager Davey Johnson that the back issues he complained about after his Friday start are better, and he could make his Wednesday start against the Brewers.
The final test will come Monday, when Detwiler throws a bullpen session at Nationals Park.
• Dan Haren threw a bullpen session Sunday and didn't have any complaints about his shoulder, which landed him on the disabled list last week. He is expected to throw a simulated game this week.
Brewers: Gallardo aims to get back on track
Gallardo has been up and down this season, and he looked like the Brewers ace of old in a three-start stretch from June 10-20, not allowing an earned run in 21 innings against the Marlins, Reds and Astros.
But the right-hander took a step back against the Cubs on Wednesday, giving up eight hits and five runs -- three earned -- in four innings. Gallardo will look to regain his stride against a Nationals team he has gone 3-2 against in his career with a 4.89 ERA.
• Francisco Rodriguez has pitched his way back into Milwaukee's closer role, a move that Roenicke says is not to showcase K-Rod before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Rodriguez -- who signed a one-year Minor League deal with Milwaukee in April and was called up to the Majors in May -- has been lights-out in 18 appearances this season, with a 1.02 ERA in 17 2/3 innings. He did allow a run in 1 1/3 innings in Milwaukee's 14-inning loss to the Pirates on Sunday, but he is 6-for-6 in save opportunities while flip-flopping roles with Jim Henderson. He also picked up his 300th career save June 22.
Rodriguez could be an attractive chip for the Brewers to trade, though Roenicke said that had nothing to do with the latest switch.
"None -- not for me anyway," Roenicke said. "Not until I meet with Doug [Melvin, the GM] and he tells me something different."
• In recent weeks, the Nationals have held records of 27-27, 28-28, 29-29, 31-31, 32-32, 33-33, 34-34, 36-36, 37-37, 38-38, 39-39, 40-40 and are now 41-40.
• The Nationals are 22-16 at Nationals Park this season, while the Brewers are 13-25 on the road.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.