ATLANTA - Marco Estrada pitched seven innings, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Monday night.
The NL East champion Braves began the night with the league's best record, 1 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who did not play Monday, moved two games back.
Atlanta has the majors' best home record at 52-23, but the Brewers led 4-0 in the eighth when Aramis Ramirez homered off reliever Anthony Varvaro.
Gomez gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the first, hitting the first pitch he saw from Mike Minor (13-8) for his 22nd homer.
The Brewers went up 3-0 in the fifth when Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Jonathan Lucroy's 18th homer.
Estrada (7-4) gave up two hits, walked three and struck out six. He threw a career-high 115 pitches, 76 for strikes.
Minor allowed eight hits and three runs and struck out six in seven innings. The left-hander, whom manager Fredi Gonzalez is considering to start Atlanta's playoff opener next week, is winless in his last five starts.
The hits Estrada allowed were a triple by Andrelton Simmons in the second and single by Justin Upton in the sixth.
In his last eight starts since coming off the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, Estrada is 3-0 with a 2.26 ERA, a span of 51 2-3 innings. He improved to 3-1 and lowered his ERA 1.54 points to 3.96 in four career starts against Atlanta.
Estrada pitched out of trouble in the fourth. Leading 1-0, he walked Jordan Schafer and Upton. Chris Johnson, the next batter, struck out on a wild pitch that moved the runners up, but Estrada struck out Evan Gattis and Simmons.
After Ramirez's 12th homer in the eighth, Milwaukee took a 5-0 lead when Sean Halton doubled off Varvaro, moved to third on Yuniesky Betancourt's infield single and scored on shortstop Simmons' throwing error.
Minor has allowed at least two homers in seven starts this season and is 0-3 with a 5.12 ERA in those outings.
Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez ejected Gonzalez with two outs in the seventh. With a runner at first, Estrada hit Paul Janish in the left leg with a pitch, but Hernandez ruled that Janish, who leaned into the 89 mph fastball, did not attempt to get out of the way.
Rob Wooten pitched the eighth and Michael Blazek the ninth for Milwaukee.
NOTES: Gonzalez said C Brian McCann took the day off to spend time with his family after his wife Ashley gave birth to their second child, a daughter. ... Gomez began the night 11 for 35 with two homers and 12 RBIs in last 10 games. ... 1B Freddie Freeman, the first Atlanta player with at least 100 RBIs since Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur in 2007, was given the night off. Freeman has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games with six homers and 17 RBIs. ... Gonzalez said that Braves LHP Alex Wood will pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason. Wood is 0-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 19 2-3 innings as a reliever, and Gonzalez is concerned that LHPs Luis Avilan and Scott Downs are battling minor injuries and have struggled recently in late innings. ... Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said SS Jean Segura, out since last Wednesday with a strained right hamstring, did some running Monday and could be used off the bench by Wednesday. ... The Brewers snapped an eight-game losing streak at Turner Field.
MERRILL - Members of a Northwoods union chapter gathered unique inspiration for a fundraiser - The Beatles.
Merrill-area Local 6 members gathered Wednesday on the Wisconsin flowage to raise money for groups in need of assistance. The union leaders organized boat rides, raffles, barbecues, and contests. The inspiration for the fundraiser came, in part, from the 1965 Beatles single Help!
"I found out it was the anniversary of the 'Help!' release from The Beatles record, and I decided, let's help our community," said Local 6 Vice President Valerie Nelson. "Our membership is very passionate about certain organizations within our community. One being the Lincoln County Humane Society, the local food pantry, and the American Cancer Society."
Gardens need some help with large temperature swings in summer
RHINELANDER - Northwoods heat the past few days forced plants to endure different weather, but you don't need to do extra gardening just because it's hot.
Experts at Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander say plants can manage the heat just fine. On hot, sunny days, many plants will wilt, but that doesn't mean they need more water.
"If the soil is moist on a hot day, I wouldn't water more. That's probably more harm. The plant can only take up so much moisture at a time, so I would just hold off on watering," says Sue Hanson, Hanson's Garden Village Co-Owner.
WOODRUFF - Americans will eat about 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wednesday, millions of Americans celebrated National Hot Dog day. That was the case in the Northwoods.
Hoggie Doggies Snack Shack is a staple in Woodruff. Their All-American favorite is the Chicago Style Dog.
The owner Judy Rossi has been there for 12 years and says they go through a lot of dogs.
"Last season we went through almost 17,000 hot dogs. This year we're on track for about 18,000," says Rossi. "Statistically we go through about 8 tons of potatoes in a season, which is close to 16,000 pounds for our homemade french fries. Those are some big numbers for this little place."
MADISON - Unemployment is up in all of Wisconsin's largest cities and most counties.
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that unemployment rates in June increased in all of the state's 32 largest cities. Unemployment rates went up in 61 of 72 counties and remained unchanged in the other 11.
Wisconsin's monthly unemployment rate in June was 5.7 percent, unchanged from May.
EAGLE RIVER - A new type of foundation could give you a better way to build a home, and the idea for the improvement starts right here in the Northwoods.
Composite Panel Systems in Eagle River builds composite panels for home foundations. Composite means anything made of two or more materials, which includes fiberglass in this case. The company describes the EPITOME Quality Foundation Wall as a revolutionary composite building solution for residential foundations.
The company makes them off site, and then they put them together on location. Composite Panel Systems' Scott Weber says that means a shorter build time compared to concrete foundations.
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