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Nationals can't hold lead, Tanner Roark struggles on mound in loss to Brewers

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Washington Nationals' starter Tanner Roark was hard on himself after he and the Nats blew a 5-1 lead in a 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in the series opener in Miller Park. Roark and Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked about the loss.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With help from some shoddy defense on the Milwaukee Brewers' part, the Washington Nationals jumped out to a 5-1 lead early in the series opener in Miller Park, but the home team chipped away at the lead and eventually tied it up at 5-5 on a solo home run by Gerardo Parra in the seventh.

Nationals' starter Tanner Roark, who gave up two home runs in the sixth inning of his previous start, when he ran out of gas at around 90 pitches against the Chicago Cubs in the nation's capital, gave up a couple hard-hit balls that died at the track in the Brewers' sixth, and then gave up the home run to right by Parra on a 1-1 change up in the zone in the seventh on his 98th pitch of the night.

"He really struggled tonight, to find location, balls up in the strike zone all night... struggled tonight to find consistency down in the zone..." -Matt Williams on Tanner Roark vs the Brewers

Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked after what ended up a 6-5 loss when the Brewers added the go-ahead run in the eighth, what went into the decision to send Roark back out for the seventh at 94 pitches?

"He's still got a number of pitches left," Williams said. "Our bullpen is heavy and we want to make sure that he can get through that inning if possible. Unfortunately he hung the changeup to Parra.

"We were going to get him for [Ryan] Braun anyway, but he never got through Parra. So I gave him Braun and those guys flipped roles down there, we were able to bring Felipe [Rivero] in to get the last out."

Roark struck Braun out with an 0-2 fastball on his 101st and final pitch of the night.

The 1-1 change to Parra, however, wasn't the only pitch he left up, as he struggled with his command throughout his time on the mound.

"Body felt good," Roark told reporters after the game. "It was just up, everything was up and they were hitting it.

"When I get offense like that, we get offense like that and get up 5-1, there's no reason why it shouldn't stay that way and I didn't keep it that way, and it was just bad on my [part]."

"He really struggled tonight, to find location, balls up in the strike zone all night," Williams said.

"You can try to make adjustments here and there but if you think about trying to make those adjustments out there then that's going to just make everything worse..." - Tanner Roark on struggles on the mound vs Milwaukee

"We got some runs via some miscues on their part, but Tanner struggled tonight to find consistency down in the zone and his breaking ball. But we had a chance to win it."

"It was just a constant battle today, but that's no excuse," Roark said.

"You've got to get guys out and you've got to keep the [lead] and we should have come out with a win, but that's on my shoulders for not keeping it there and letting them back in the game."

Trying to adjust on the mound when you're not keeping the ball down and hitting your spots is difficult, however, Roark explained.

"You can try to make adjustments here and there but if you think about trying to make those adjustments out there then that's going to just make everything worse. That's what's happened to me before, so you've got to just go out there and battle and fight even when you don't have your best stuff...

"It's very rare that you have your best stuff every single day, but I should have definitely done a lot better, and it was bad on my part."

Things went from bad to worse for the Nationals in the eighth when Brewers' outfielder Shane Peterson reached first and took second on an error on what looked like a double play grounder, took third on a groundout and scored the go-ahead run on a two-out single by Scooter Gennett.

After Aaron Barrett surrendered the go-ahead run, he got a visit on the mound from Matt Williams, Steve McCatty and the Nats' trainer and left the game at that point. Williams told reporters he didn't have an update immediately after the game.

"We don't have any information yet, we'll know more tomorrow," he said.

Asked what brought him out to the mound, the second-year skipper said Barrett didn't look right.

"He was uncomfortable, so we'll see how he is tomorrow."

• We talked about Tanner Roark's outing, Matt Williams' decisions, this afternoon's trade, Ryan Zimmerman's injury and more on the latest edition of Nats Nightly:

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