Last time he took the mound in Milwaukee's Miller Park, in June of 2015, Max Scherzer struck out sixteen batters and took a bid for a perfect game into the seventh inning of what ended up a complete game shutout of the Brewers.
Any thought of a perfect game ended with the first of back-to-back-to-back, one-out walks in the bottom of the first inning tonight in the series opener of the Washington Nationals' three-game set in Wisconsin.
Scherzer came close to escaping the bases-loaded jam he created, striking out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and getting up 1-2 on Brewers' third baseman Aaron Hill, but Hill lined Scherzer's 35th pitch of the inning to center for a two-out, two-run single that made it 2-0 Milwaukee early.
After his 38-pitch first, Scherzer "settled in nicely" retiring 10 of the next 11 batters before Brewers' pinch hitter Keon Broxton took him deep for the NL-leading 19th home run allowed by the Nationals' starter this season and Broxton's first in the majors, 3-3 after five.
Scherzer's 20th home run allowed this season was hit by Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a 2-1 fastball up in the zone with a runner on in the second at bat of the sixth at the Brewers took back the lead and took the series opener, 5-3...
Brewers' starter Zach Davies, who was unbeaten in nine starts with two earned runs or less allowed in eight of those nine outings, started the night with two scoreless frames, but gave up three in the third as the Nats rallied to take the lead after falling behind early.
Michael Taylor singled and moved into scoring position on a throwing error on a pick attempt with Bryce Harper at the plate. Harper walked to put two on with one out and Daniel Murphy due up, and Murphy lined an 0-1 fastball into the right-center gap for a two-out double that tied things up, 2-2. Murphy's 20th double.
Murphy scored from second on a line drive single to left by Wilson Ramos and the Nationals took a 3-2 lead.
Brewers' skipper Craig Counsell hit for Zach Davies in the 5th after the right-hander struck out nine on 104 pitches, and pinch hitter Keon Broxton took Scherzer deep for a solo blast on an 0-1 slider up in the zone. 3-3.
Zach Davies' Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 104 P, 71 S, 2/2 GO/FO.
Scherzer came out for the bottom of the sixth at 95 pitches and gave up a leadoff single by Chris Carter on the first pitch of the inning and a two-run home run by Kirk Nieuwenhuis on his 100th. 5-3 Brewers.
Max Scherzer's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 2 HRs, 117 P, 74 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Matt Belisle threw a scoreless seventh after the Nationals came up empty against Will Smith in the top of the frame.
In the eighth inning, however, the Nats rallied again with Murphy taking a base on a hit-by-pitch and sprinting around to third on a double to right by Wilson Ramos (4 for 4). Ryan Zimmerman K'd looking at a 3-2 curve for out No. 1.
Anthony Rendon worked back from 0-2 to 3-2, and walked after fouling a few off, loading the bases. Danny Espinosa stepped in next and went down swinging at a 1-2 changeup in the dirt.
Clint Robinson got a two-on, two-out pinch hit opportunity, worked the count full and sent a pop to foul territory off third for out No. 3.
Brewers' closer Jeremy Jeffress came on to close it out in the ninth and hit Ben Revere in the ribs to start the frame.
Michael A. Taylor K'd looking at a 97 mph 1-2 fastball for out No. 1. Bryce Harper fell behind 0-2 and lined out to center on a 1-2 curve. Daniel Murphy singled to left to keep hope alive and move Revere to third, with Wilson Ramos due up, but the first out of the night by the catcher ended the game as Ramos went down swinging. 5-3 Brewers finale.
Six straight losses...
Nationals now 43-31
- Washington and Milwaukee have split the 76 games they've played since 2005, with the Nationals 23-15 at home in D.C. and 15-23 in Miller Park.
- In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, the Nats are 9-5 against the Brewers and 17-11 overall in Miller Park... since 2012.
- Washington's 43-30 record heading into the series opener in Milwaukee is the third best in the National League, behind only the San Francisco Giants (47-27) and Chicago Cubs (47-24).
- Milwaukee is 13-23 on the road this season, but 19-17 at home in Miller Park.
- Nats' shortstop Danny Espinosa hit his 13th home run of the season on Tuesday in LA, matching his total from the entire 2015 campaign in the first 71 games this season and leaving him seven behind his previous career-high in HRs, (21 in 2011).
- In a bonus Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Danny Espinosa is (16 for 47, .340 AVG) with two doubles, five home runs, four walks and 14 runs scored... since June 8th.
- Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun starts the series with a six-game hit streak over which he's 11 for 26 (.423 AVG) and he's hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games, going 15 for 42 (.357 AVG) over that stretch.
- Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos starts the three-game set in Miller Park leading all major league catchers with a .330 AVG, .376 OBP and a .557 SLG.
- Ramos' 12 HRs are the most by any NL catcher, and tied with the Royals' Salvador Perez for the most among major league catchers.
- Daniel Murphy started the night leading the NL in batting average (.352), hits (93), and it tied for the National League lead in multi-hit games (29).
- Through 73 games, the Nationals, as a team, have 99 home runs. If they hit their 100th in the next 20 games (he he) they will set the team mark for fewest games to reach 100. The previous best? 100 in 93 games in '06, 94 in 2012 and 100 in 2015.
Nationals now 43-31