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Garza’s poor start too much to overcome, Brewers fall 7-4 to Nats

WP: Tanner Roark (8-5) LP: Matt Garza (1-2) Save: Jonathon Papelbon (17) Homeruns: Mil, none; Wash, Bryce Harper (18), Jose Lobaton (2), Ryan Zimmerman (12)

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals
Tanner Roark is the only Nats pitcher to beat the Crew this year
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I was ready to write this one off going into the third, after Matt Garza got hit hard over the first two and put the Brewers into a 4-0 deficit. Tanner Roark had shut out the Brewers last series over seven innings, and had retired the first six he faced easily.

And Roark did strike out the side in the third. His problem was that he gave up five singles and four runs to tie things up at 4-4. Scooter Gennett drove in two with a bases loaded single, and Jonathon Lucroy singled through the left side with Jonathan Villar and Gennett running, scoring Villar and taking Gennett to third.

Then, with Chris Carter striking out on a 2-2 pitch, Lucroy took off on a steal attempt. Jose Lobaton threw through, Lucroy stopped, and Gennett beat the throw home for the double steal. Game tied.

Garza, though, was too much for the Brewers to overcome. Given a second chance with a 4-4 tie, he walked Ryan Zimmerman with two down, then uncorked a really, really wild pitch that hit the backstop on the fly and bounced all the way back to Garza. Fortunately, Matt didn’t try to throw to second. Stephen Drew then drove a ground rule double into left center and the Nats had their lead back. After a 1-2-3 fourth, Garza couldn’t complete the fifth. The Brewers eschewed the opportunity to pinch hit for him in the top of the inning, and Garza rewarded their patience by hitting Anthony Rendon with one down, then allowing a monster blast to center from Ryan Zimmerman for a two run homer. 7-4 Nats.

Garza’s final line was 4.1 innings, 8 hits, 7 earned, two walks, two strikeouts, a hit batter, 3 homers allowed, 2 doubles allowed, and dampened expectations for future starts all around.

Michael Blazek worked 1.2 innings in relief, and seemed to be throwing as well as he has since coming back from the disabled list. He allowed an infield single to Roark when Hill’s throw sailed high, but a 1-6-3 double play by Ben Revere erased that. Blazek fanned two and walked none. Carlos Torres pitched the last two innings, giving up a double but no runs, striking out one.

But the Brewer bats were silent the rest of the way, so the relievers’ good work went for naught. The Brewers did finish up their two series against Washington with a 4-2 mark, and have played better against the NL East this year (14-16) than against the Central (9-15) or West (5-12). Their interleague record is 9-5; should never have left the AL, apparently.

Thursday is an off day, with the Cardinals coming to Miller Park for the last series before the break. Friday night’s game has Michael Wacha (5-7, 4.38) going against Jimmy Nelson (5-7, 3.65).