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Nationals blow 5-1 lead, drop 6-5 decision to Brewers in series opener in Miller Park

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Washington jumped out to a 5-1 lead early in the series opener in Milwaukee's Miller Park, but the Brewers chipped away at Nationals' starter Tanner Roark and tied it up at 5-5 in the seventh before going ahead in the eighth. 6-5 Brew Crew.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

5. Roark in Milwaukee: Tanner Roark gave up just one run on three hits in five innings of work on the mound against Chicago last week in the nation's capital, but the Cubs added three in the sixth with Anthony Rizzo sending a two-run home run to center in Nationals Park and Miguel Montero hitting a solo blast before Washington's right-hander was lifted with two down, having thrown a season-high 97 pitches.

"Early on his fastball was really good, 93 or 94," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after Roark earned his second win of the season.

"My fastball has always been my best pitch, locating it well and keeping it down, trying to keep it down, elevating if I need to..." -Tanner Roark after start vs the Cubs

"As he got later in the game -- again, we have to realize, this is start no.3 for him, so it's not like he's in midseason form yet -- and it looked like he got a little bit tired at the end there, left the ball up to Rizzo and left the ball up to Miggy and so we decided to get him out of there with the lead."

With the win in his third start of the season, after he started the 2015 campaign in the bullpen, Roark improved to (20-11) in 39 career starts, with a 2.78 ERA, a 3.61 FIP, 46 walks (1.68 BB/9) and 169 Ks (6.17 K/9) in 246 ⅓ IP in which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .234/.275/.350 line.

Tonight in Miller Park, Roark was making the second start of his career against the Brewers after giving up one run on six hits in seven innings of work last season.

He took the mound with a 1-0 lead, but after a one-out single to right by Gerardo Parra and an RBI triple to center by Ryan Braun in the next at bat it was all tied up at 1-1. Roark stranded Braun at third base, though, and completed a 16-pitch first.

Given a 2-1 lead to work with, courtesy of Clint Robinson's first major league home run, Roark retired the Brewers in order in a quick, 13-pitch second that left him at 29 overall after two.

Gerardo Parra sent a fly to right field corner for the third out of a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 45 total for Roark after three.

Ryan Braun singled to start the third, took third base on a double to left-center by Adam Lind and scored on an RBI groundout to short by Aramis Ramirez. Shane Peterson's groundout to first brought Lind in too, 5-3. Jean Segura hit a two-out pop to short right no one could catch, but he was stranded when Scooter Gennett grounded back to the mound to end a 20-pitch fourth that left Roark at 65 pitches.

Jonathan Lucroy grounded into a force at second after a leadoff single by Matt Garza in the first at bat of the Brewers' fifth, and two outs later moved into scoring position on walk to Ryan Braun before scoring on a single to center by Adam Lind. 5-4 Nationals. 19-pitch fifth, 84 total.

Jean Segura lined a one-out single to right in the bottom of the sixth, taking a 92 mph 3-2 fastball the other way. A fly to center by Scooter Gennett sent Denard Span back to the track, where Span caught out no.2, and a fly to left field by pinch hitter Hector Gomez ended a 10-pitch frame, 94 overall.

Roark came back out for the bottom of the seventh and gave up a solo home run to right-center on a 1-1 change that cleared the wall in right-center. 5-5 game.

Tanner Roark's Line: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 67 S, 7/4 GO/FO.

4. Garza vs the Nationals: Milwaukee Brewers' right-hander Matt Garza made two starts against Washington last season, giving up five hits and three earned runs in seven innings in Miller Park in June and five hits and five runs when he faced the Nationals in the nation's capital in July, and was out after having thrown 42 pitches and retired just one batter.

The losses in those two outings left the ten-year veteran (0-3) in six career starts vs Washington with a 7.33 ERA, 12 walks (4.00 BB/9) and 31 Ks (10.33 K/9) in 27 IP, over which Nats' hitters have put up a combined .316/.381/.465 line against him.

Before taking the mound tonight, Garza was (4-7) on the year after signing a 4-year/$50M free agent deal with the Brewers this winter, with a 5.09 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, 29 walks (3.78 BB/9) and 49 Ks (6.39 K/9) in 12 games, 11 starts and 69 IP this season, in which opposing hitters have a .265/.338/.438 line.

After earning his fourth win of the season in his first and only relief appearance of the 2015 campaign on May 31st, in a 17-inning affair with Arizona in which he tossed five scoreless after taking over in the 14th inning, Garza snapped a winless start streak that stretched back April 29th last time out with seven innings of work on the mound against the Twins in Minnesota in which he gave up just one run on six hits.

The series opener with the Nationals began with a double to right field by Denard Span, who smoked a 93 mph, 3-2 fastball, bouncing a line drive off the fence. Two outs later, with Span still on second, Garza got Bryce Harper to send a weak chopper back up the middle that Jean Segura barehanded before bouncing a throw to first that got by Adam Lind. E:6. 1-0 Nats when Denard Span scored.

Clint Robinson unloaded on a 1-0 fastball from Garza with one down in second, and hit his first major league home run out to right and into the second deck in Miller Park. 2-1 Nationals. 11-pitch second for Garza, 30 total after two.

Denard Span and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back singles in the first two at bats of the third, but three outs later, they were both stranded on the basepaths and Garza was through three on 49 pitches after a 19-pitch frame.

Clint Robinson and Michael Taylor hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the top of the fourth, but Tanner Roark K'd on a foul tip trying to get a bunt down with two strikes for out no.2. Denard Span sent a grounder up the middle in his two- out at bat, and a late hop got it over Segura's glove. 3-1 Nats when Robinson scores, and 5-1 when two come in on an E:5 by Aramis Ramirez on an Anthony Rendon grounder to third. 21-pitch inning, 70 total for Garza after four.

Garza retired the Nationals in order in the top of the fifth, striking Danny Espinosa out to end a 13-pitch frame. 83 total. A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth gave the Brewers' right-hander seven straight outs and left him at 90 pitches total.

Matt Garza's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 90 P, 68 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

3. Ch-ch-ch-changes: After starting the 2015 campaign with a 7-18 record under veteran manager Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee replaced their skipper with former Brewer and 16-year veteran major leaguer Craig Counsell, under whose guidance they are 15-20 thus far.

The Brewers ended the month of May with a six-game losing streak, but started the four-game set with the Nationals in Miller Park with wins in five of their last nine.

The Nationals entered the long-weekend set with the Brewers 3-6 in nine games in May, with losses in nine of the last 12 after they'd won nine of twelve in two weeks before that.

Adding to the Nationals' issues in recent weeks, was the fact that they placed yet another player on the disabled list today, with Ryan Zimmerman landing on the 15-Day DL with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, joining outfielder Jayson Werth and pitchers Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg.

With Zimmerman out, Nats' skipper Matt Williams said that both Clint Robinson and Tyler Moore would platoon at and continue to see time in left as they have since Werth went down last month.

The Brewers started the series with a 34-35 record against the Nationals going back to 2005 and an 18-8 record vs Washington in Milwaukee.

Could the depleted Nats even up the all-time series and make it two straight after they snapped a three-game losing streak with Wednesday's win over the Yankees in New York?

2. Turning Point(s): The Nationals jumped out to an early lead when Denard Span doubled and scored on an error by Brewers' shortstop Jean Segura, but Milwaukee tied it up at 1-1 on a one-out RBI triple to center by Ryan Braun in the bottom of the first inning. With a runner at third and one out, however, Roark managed to strand Braun two outs later and keep things tied up at the end of the first.

• Clint Robinson, starting today in place of the DL'd Ryan Zimmerman, got hold of a 1-0 fastball from Garza in his first at bat and turned it around, sending a high fly to right and into the second deck for a solo blast that put the Nats ahead, 2-1.

• Garza worked his way out of trouble in the third, retiring three straight and striking two of them out after back-to-back singles by Denard Span and Anthony Rendon started the frame.

• Garza got the second out of the fourth on a fouled off, two-strike bunt attempt by Tanner Roark after back-to-back hits by Clint Robinson and Michael Taylor in the top of the fourth, but a grounder up the middle got by Jean Segura, and an error by Aramis Ramirez on a grounder to third allowed two runs in, making it 5-1 Nats after three and a half.

• The Brewers chipped away at the Nats' lead with RBI groundouts by Aramis Ramirez and Shane Peterson bringing in runs in the fourth, 5-3, and a two-out single by Adam Lind driving in another run in the fifth, 5-4.

• Roark was up to 94 pitches after he got through a sixth in spite of a few hard-hit balls that died on the track, but he came back out for the seventh and gave up a fly to right by Gerardo Parra that cleared the right-center field wall for a game-tying solo home run, 5-5.

1. The Wrap-Up: Milwaukee's right-handed reliever Michael Blazek took over on the mound for the Brewers in the top of the seventh inning and gave up a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon, but Rendon was nailed going for second on an inning-ending strike'em out, throw'em out double play.

Felipe Rivero took over for Tanner Roark with two out in the Brewers' seventh and struck Adam Lind out to end the frame.

Will Smith, the one who was suspended for using an illegal substance on his arm, not the one from "Men in Black" and "Hancock", walked Bryce Harper to start the Nationals' eighth, but two outs later, Harper was picked off and caught trying to steal second. Still 5-5 after seven and a half.

Aaron Barrett struck Aramis Ramirez out on a slider in the dirt that got by Wilson Ramos. Ramirez beat the throw to first, but was forced out at second on a grounder to short by Shane Peterson that should have been a double play. Anthony Rendon bounced the 4-3 throw, however, and it got by Clint Robinson. Peterson took second on the E:4, and third on a groundout by Jean Segura before scoring on a two-out single to left by Scooter Gennett.

Barrett left the mound with an apparent injury in the next at bat...

With the score 6-5 after eight, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez came out for the save opportunity and retired the first two batters he faced before giving up a line drive single to left by Ian Desmond. Denard Span stepped in with the tying run at first base and grounded out to first. Ballgame.

Nationals now 31-28