WASHINGTON, DC (WHBL) - A two-and-a-half month chase to the playoffs begins Friday night for the Milwaukee Brewers and three other close contenders in the National League Central. The Brewers open a weekend series at Washington, which is tied with Atlanta for the East Division lead. The Brewers still lead their division despite losing 11 of their last 13 games before the All-Star break. The Saint Louis Cardinals are just a game back, Cincinnati is one-and-a-half back, and fourth-place Pittsburgh trails by three-and-a-half. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy says it will be a "dog-fight" for the rest of the year, in what he believes is the best division in the Majors. General manager Doug Melvin said he asked his coaching staff if the Brewers were a bad team, based on their last 12 games, or if they were just playing badly. He said the clear consensus was that they were just playing badly during that stretch. September will be really interesting if the four-team race stays as tight as it is. That's because Milwaukee will play 26 of its final 30 regular season games against teams in the N-L Central. Right-hander Kyle Lohse will start for Milwaukee tonight against Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg. Pregame coverage on WHBL begins at 5:30.