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Brewers 9-2 over Nationals to avoid sweep in Miller Park: Stephen Strasburg struggles in Milwaukee

Stephen Strasburg was hit hard and knocked out early in the series finale in Miller Park and and the Milwaukee Brewers avoided being swept at home with a 9-2 win in which Marco Estrada held the Nats to just two runs on two hits.

Mike McGinnis

Cream City Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' first baseman Adam LaRoche took a nine-pitch, second inning walk from Milwaukee Brewers' starter Marco Estrada, moved up when Anthony Rendon took a walk in the next at bat and took third when Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second. Nate McLouth grounded to first in the at bat that followed and Lyle Overbay made an ill-advised throw home that arrived too late to get LaRoche. 1-0 Nats early in the series finale in Miller Park.

With the score 1-0 Nats after one and a half innings in Wisconsin, the Brewers loaded the bases with two down in the bottom of the second and second baseman Scooter Gennett took a 2-1 fastball to right-center for a grand slam and a 4-1 lead over the Nationals.

Ryan Zimmerman walked to start the Nationals' fourth and took second on a wild pitch, but two outs later he was still standing at second base when Ian Desmond came up against Marco Estrada and lined an RBI double to center field to drive Zimmerman in and cut into the Brewers' lead, 4-2 after three and a half.

A half-inning after the Nationals got within two, Brewers' left fielder Khris Davis jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Stephen Strasburg and hit a solo home run out to left field in Miller Park to give Milwaukee its three-run lead back.

5-2 Brewers.

The Brewers added to their lead in the fifth with Khris Davis hitting a bases-loaded single to right to drive in two more runs and end Strasburg's outing with the score 7-2 in Milwaukee's favor.

Scooter Gennett drove in his fifth run of the game with an RBI single to left in the sixth. 8-2. A swinging bunt by Carlos Gomez brought Gennett in to make it 9-2 Brewers.

4. Strasburg in Miller Park: Last time out against Atlanta in the nation's capital, 25-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg gave up nine hits and four runs in six innings on the mound in which he struck out nine batters.

"I felt pretty good out there. I just didn't pitch enough. Got too one-sided on the plate and they made the adjustment." - Stephen Strasburg on last start vs ATL in D.C.

The Nationals' right-hander wasn't particularly sharp, even giving up rare hits on two-strike pitches, something that hasn't happened often against the '09 no.1 overall pick this season.

"It happens sometimes," manager Matt Williams told reporters after the 6-4 loss to the Braves.

"But he was aggressive within the strike zone today. It's not easy to hit them with two strikes against him, but they did."

"I felt pretty good out there," Strasburg told reporters. "I just didn't pitch enough. Got too one-sided on the plate and they made the adjustment."

The outing, in which he received no decision, left Strasburg (6-5) on the year with a 3.24 ERA, a 2.43 FIP, 20 walks (1.80 BB/9) and 121 Ks (10.89 K/9) in 16 starts and 100 IP.

In four June starts, Strasburg put up a 3.51 ERA in 25 ⅔ IP before today in which he has walked just one batter (0.35 BB/9) and struck out 31 (10.87 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a .262/.269/.427 line.

In his 17th start of the season this afternoon, Strasburg took on the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park.

On the road this season, the righty posted an ERA (4.22) that was significantly higher than it was in Nationals Park (2.51), with a FIP (3.21) that is higher than it is in D.C. (1.86) and a .270/.314/.429 line against, as opposed to a .253/.298/.342 line in the Nationals' home.

Before this afternoon, he'd faced the Brewers just once in his five major league seasons, throwing seven scoreless innings last July in Washington in which he gave up three hits and four walks while striking out eight.

His second career start against Milwaukee took place in Wisconsin today...

1st: Scooter Gennett flew out to Denard Span in center. Jean Segura flew out to Nate McLouth in right. Carlos Gomez dumped a 1-0 curve into center for a two-out single, and stole second with Lyle Overbay up, but a 2-2 change got the Brewers' first baseman swinging to end an 11-pitch bottom of the first.

2nd: Mark Reynolds singled to left on a 2-2 change in the first at bat of the Brewers' second. Khris Davis took a 93 mph 0-2 fastball for a ride to center, but Denard Span went a long way to track it down and catch the first out of the inning. Brewers' right fielder Elian Herrera went with a 93 mph 2-2 fastball outside and doubled to left, sending Reynolds around to third. Martin Maldonado fell behind 1-2, but worked the count full and walked to load the bases with one out. Marco Estrada K'd swinging at an 0-2 change for out no.2. Scooter Gennett got ahead in the count and hit a 94 mph 2-1 fastball out to right-center for a grand slam and a 4-1 lead. Jean Segura singled to center on Strasburg's 34th pitch of the inning. One pitch later, however, Segura was thrown out on the basepaths. 35-pitch frame, 46 total after two.

3rd: Carlos Gomez sent a bunt back toward the mound that Stephen Strasburg handled for the first out of the home-half of the third. Lyle Overbay lined out to first for out no.2. A fly to left by Mark Reynolds ended a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that left Strasburg at 53 pitches.

4th: Khris Davis jumped on a 94 mph center-cut first-pitch fastball from Strasburg and hit a solo home run out to left to make it 5-2 Brewers a half-inning after the Nats cut into the lead. Groundouts from Elian Herrera, Martin Maldonado and Marco Estrada followed in a quick but damaging 10-pitch inning that left Strasburg at 63 pitches.

5th: Scooter Gennett lined out to first base to start the Brewers' fifth. Jean Segura grounded out to short for out no.2, but Carlos Gomez extended the inning with a triple to center that bounced off the wall and got away from Denard Span. Lyle Overbay walked with two down. Mark Reynolds stepped in with two on and two out and walked to load the bases and a fly to right off Khris Davis' bat dropped in for a hit and made it a 7-2 game.

Twenty-seven pitches into the inning, Strasburg was lifted in favor or debuting right-hander Taylor Hill.

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HR, 90 P, 58 S, 5/4 GO/FO.

3. Estrada, Marco: The Washington Nationals drafted Marco Estrada out of Cal State Long Beach in the 6th Round of the 2005 Draft. The right-hander out of Sonora, Mexico made his MLB debut with the Nats in August of 2008 at the age of 25. Two years later, in February of 2010, he was selected off waivers by the Brewers after two seasons and 15 games with the Nationals. Since then he's made 115 appearances and 67 starts for Milwaukee, over which he's put up a 4.25 ERA in 460 IP.

In 15 starts in 2014 before this afternoon's outing in Miller Park, Estrada was (6-4) with a 5.22 ERA, a 5.77 FIP, 28 walks (2.81 BB/9) and 81 Ks (8.13 K/9) in 89 ⅔ IP over which opposing hitters have put up a .254/.313/.519 line.

In three games and two starts against the Nationals before today's, Estrada put up a 5.73 ERA with three walks (2.45 BB/9) and 11 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 11 IP over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .304/.360/.543 line.

The Nationals went down in order in a seven-pitch first inning in the series finale, though Denard Span came close to hitting HR no.25 of the year out to right field.

Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche and third baseman Anthony Rendon took back-to-back walks from Estrada in the top of the second, but Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second base in the next at bat. LaRoche took third on the play. Nate McLouth grounded to first in the at bat that followed and Lyle Overbay made an ill-advised throw home that arrived too late to get Adam LaRoche, 1-0 Nationals after one and a half.

The 28-pitch second left Estrada at 35 pitches overall.

Given a 4-1 lead to work with, Estrada retired the Nationals in order in a 15-pitch third that left him at 50 pitches total after three.

Ryan Zimmerman walked to start the fourth and took second on a wild pitch to Adam LaRoche. LaRoche worked the count full but lined out to center. Anthony Rendon K'd looking for out no.2, but Ian Desmond came through with a two-out RBI double on a liner to center that brought Zimmerman in, 4-2 Brew Crew.

Estrada needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the top of the fifth, leaving him at 85 pitches total after five.

A 15-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Estrada at 100 pitches.

After giving up a one-out single by Ian Desmond and a walk to Nate McLouth, Estrada was lifted with two on and one out in the seventh...

Marco Estrada's Line:

• Random Bryce Harper Update:

2. Nats' 3B Come Through: Anthony Rendon's eighth inning home run last night tied things up and eventually sent the second game of three for the Nationals in Milwaukee into extra innings where Ryan Zimmerman's first home run since returning from the DL put Washington up 4-2 after 15 ½ innings with the Brewers.

Nationals' skipper Matt Williams talked afterwards about the importance of coming out on the winning end in games like last night's.

"It's good when you win," Williams said, "if you lose games like this it's really tough. But still, it's taxing on everybody, so we'll have to look at the lineup tomorrow, we'll have to look at the bullpen and see where we're at."

Zimmerman's home run saved the Nationals from some tough decisions, with Williams admitting that he told Adam LaRoche to throw some pitches to get loose because he was next in line to take the mound with the bullpen spent after fifteen innings.

"He understands what the opposition are going to try to do, and certainly didn't want to let them beat him to his pull side..." - Matt Williams on Anthony Rendon's game-tying HR last night

"We've been scratching and clawing and trying to get a run across," he said. "And we had some opportunities, but that's a big swing for us right there. These guys are tough, tough to play here, they play really well at home, so to get this one was important."

As for Rendon's home run, Williams said it was more evidence of how good a hitter the Nats' 2011 1st Round pick out of Rice is already at just 24 years old.

"He understands what the opposition are going to try to do, and certainly didn't want to let them beat him to his pull side, so he just stayed on a ball and hit it to right-center. [Carlos] Gomez made a nice effort for it, but just out of his reach."

In Marco Estrada, Milwaukee's starter for the series finale, the Nationals were facing a pitcher who was susceptible to the long ball, having surrendered an NL-high 24 HRs in 89 ⅔ IP (2.41 HR/9).

The Nationals managed just one hit off of Estrada through six innings, though the scored two runs.

1. The Wrap-Up: After Nats' starter Stephen Strasburg gave up a two-run double to right by Khris Davis in the fifth, he was replaced on the mound by debuting right-hander Taylor Hill, the Nats' 2011 6th Round pick out of Vanderbilt who was called up this morning to help out of the bullpen. Hill needed five pitches to get the final out of the inning on a line drive to second off Elian Herrera's bat. 7-2 Brewers after five.

Martin Maldonado singled off Hill to start the Brewers' sixth, and after he was bunted over by Marco Estrada, he scored on an RBI single to left by Scooter Gennett to make it 8-2 Brewers.

Gennett scored on an excuse-me single by Carlos Gomez, 9-2.

Brandon Kintzler took over on the mound for Milwaukee with two on and one out in the seventh.

Hill needed 11 pitches to retire the Brewers in order in the bottom of the seventh.

The Nationals went down in order against Alfredo Figaro in the eighth.

Nationals now 41-36