Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost is doing his best to keep his team focused, but that's not easy when it has compiled baseball's longest active losing streak while facing two of the NL's worst clubs.
The Brewers (26-29) try to avoid losing a seventh straight game when they continue their three-game set against the Washington Nationals (23-32) on Saturday at Miller Park.
After getting swept in four games by Pittsburgh, which owns the NL's second-worst record, Milwaukee dropped its series opener 10-4 on Friday to the Nationals, who have not been above .500 at any point this season.
''They've got to keep their own spirits up,'' Yost said. ''We do what we can to stay positive with them, but they've got a responsibility to themselves and to each other to keep themselves up.''
Milwaukee has been outscored 52-14 and outhit 74-47 during its current slide. The Brewers have not lost seven in a row since April 15-21, 2005, and are trying to avoid falling four games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 3.
The starting rotation has a 9.64 ERA over the last six games while allowing opposing batters to hit .358. Dana Eveland gave up five runs and six hits over four innings in Friday's loss and was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville after the game.
Doug Davis (3-4, 5.59 ERA) hopes to break the trend of poor pitching and rebound from one of his shakiest outings of the season when he takes the ball for Milwaukee on Saturday. The left-hander gave up eight runs and a career high-tying 11 hits over three innings in a 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday.
''I felt sluggish out there, throwing around 40 pitches in the first, and it was hard to execute some pitches,'' Davis said. ''I made a lot of mistakes.''
Those mistakes were in stark contrast to his previous start, when Davis allowed two runs over seven innings in a 6-2 win over Cincinnati on May 24.
Davis is 1-3 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts versus the Nationals franchise.
While the Brewers are slumping, the Nationals have won two games in a row and nine of their last 13. They will try to win their first series in Milwaukee since 2003 on Saturday and record their fourth series win in their last five.
Washington second baseman Jose Vidro had three hits and two RBIs on Friday, Nick Johnson recorded three hits and Brian Schneider hit a three-run double.
''Everyone contributed tonight,'' Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. ''We got key base hits at the right times.''
Mike O'Connor (2-3, 3.00) returns to the mound for Washington on Saturday after being forced from his last start with a left ankle bruise. The left-hander allowed three runs and five hits over five innings in an 11-2 loss to Philadelphia on Monday before being struck in the ankle by a line drive in the sixth.
O'Connor will try to end a personal four-game winless streak as he makes his first career appearance against MilwaukeeWASHINGTON
1. A. Soriano LF
2. R. Clayton SS
3. J. Vidro 2B
4. N. Johnson 1B
5. R. Zimmerman 3B
6. M. Byrd CF
7. B. Schneider C
8. M. Vento RF
9. M. O'Connor P
1. R. Weeks 2B
2. J. Cirillo 3B
3. G. Jenkins RF
4. C. Lee LF
5. B. Hall SS
6. D. Miller C
7. C. Hart 1B
8. B. Clark CF
9. D. Davis P