The Washington Nationals (54-57) watched a three-run lead slip away on Sunday, as the Milwaukee Brewers (47-64) rallied to beat them, 8-5, and deny them the series sweep.
A five-run sixth inning to come from behind was the turning point for the Brewers, and despite five strong innings from Taylor Jordan, and home runs from Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche, the Nationals were not able to fight back for a victory.
The offense made quick work of Brewers’ starter Kyle Lohse at the start of the game, roughing him up for three runs in the second inning. Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond were both hit by pitches, and Steve Lombardozzi singled for the first hit of the game to load the bases. Kurt Suzuki singled in two runs, and Jordan bunted in another, with the help of the Brewers MLB-leading 82nd error.
But the Nats let Lohse off the hook after that, allowing him to complete his outing with three scoreless innings, despite seeming to struggle with the command of his pitches.
Jordan was sharp to start for the Nats, allowing one run, two hits and a walk to face just three over the minimum across the first five innings. But the wheels fell off in the sixth inning, when he loaded the bases on back-to-back hits and a walk with only one out.
One run scored on a sac fly from Carlos Gomez, and Jordan was pulled in favor of Fernando Abad. Abad gave up three consecutive hits to allow all of his inherited runners from Jordan to score, giving the Brewers a 6-4 lead and erasing Jordan’s chance for his second major-league win.
In final third of the game, the Nationals were unable to mount a comeback. Rendon, who entered the game on a double switch in the sixth inning, homered in the seventh to chip away at the Brewers’ lead. However, other bats went silent, as Werth was the only National to get a hit after Rendon’s home run.
Craig Stammen pitched the seventh and eighth innings, and allowed his first runs since July 20, a span of five games and eight and two-thirds innings. He gave up two runs – one of which was unearned due to a rare Ian Desmond error – to solidify the Brewers’ lead.
During Sunday’s game, the Nationals saw production from two hitters who were among their least productive in July: Rendon and LaRoche.
Rendon was unable to sustain the torrid pace he set for himself in June – when he hit .330 with 10 doubles – and hit just .187 in July. But, he is now 3-for-9 in August, with one RBI in each of the three games of this series.
Similarly, LaRoche hit .159 with only two home runs in July. He is just 2-for-11 in three games in August, but both of those hits have been home runs, including a solo shot in the sixth inning Sunday.
If the Nationals can begin to rely on production from Rendon and LaRoche, that will plug holes in their lineup as they enter a tough stretch of their schedule when they will face the Atlanta Braves (twice), Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.
The offense will need to come on strong during that stretch, and hopefully their 27-for-102 effort (.265) during the Brewers series will serve as sufficient momentum.