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Gio Gonzalez struggles against Brewers; Nationals struggle against Zach Davies

Gio Gonzalez had a six-start unbeaten streak and a five-start win streak snapped in the series opener in Miller Park.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee right-hander Zach Davies tossed 7 23 scoreless against Washington on the mound in Nationals Park when the Brewers and Nationals played in D.C. in late July, earning the win in an 8-0 game.

Davies’ win in that outing extended a personal unbeaten streak to six straight starts in which the 24-year-old starter had a 2.54 ERA and a .236/.301/.329 line against in 39 IP.

“Davies was good,” Dusty Baker said after the loss in the nation’s capital.

“I mean, I can’t believe his ERA is what is (4.45 at that point), because every time I’ve seen him he’s been good.

“He threw first pitch breaking balls, you know, had that working tonight, and his sinker and his changeup working. He had everything working tonight.”

In six starts after that outing, before he faced the Nationals again in the series opener in Miller Park last night, Davies had a 2.29 ERA and a .230/.270/.304 line against in 39 13 IP, going (3-3) over that stretch.

Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez gave up five hits and two earned runs in seven innings pitched against the Brewers in that series in Washington, receiving no decision in an 8-5 win.

In five starts that followed, the 31-year-old southpaw was unbeaten (5-0), with a 0.79 ERA and a .175/.244/.208 line against in 34 13 innings pitched, but Gonzalez was less-than-sharp on Thursday night in the series opener with the Brewers in Milwaukee.

The Brewers struck early with Hernan Perez doubling to left-center in the first, stealing third, and scoring on a sac fly for a 1-0 lead.

Washington scored two on Davies in the third with Michael A. Taylor singling, stealing second, and scoring on a Trea Turner double, before Turner stole third and scored on a groundout, 2-1.

Davies helped his own cause at the plate in what ended up a 6-3 win for the Brewers, singling and scoring in the third inning, on a two-out, two-run single by Jesus Aguilar, 3-2, and retiring the 11 of the next 13 batters he faced as Milwaukee took a 5-2 lead.

Davies played a role in the two runs they added in the fifth, walking to start the inning, before scoring on a Jonathan Villar home run.

Gonzalez seemed genuinely confused by Villar’s approach in that at bat when he spoke to reporters after the loss.

With a runner on first, the Brewers’ infielder tried to bunt on the first pitch he saw, a curve from Gonzalez, then hit a follow-up curveball out to right for the two-run blast.

Gonzalez was asked what he was trying to do in that at bat.

“The one he pushed bunt and then he went after that and swung? I don’t know what he was doing the first at bat, so, well, that at bat, because he tried to push bunt and then all of a sudden he gets the curveball that kind of backed up a little bit.

“But if we executed that curveball it’s a different result.”

“Gio was good,” Baker said after what ended up being a 6-3 loss, “except for those — the leadoff walk to the pitcher which started an inning and the base hit by the pitcher that started an inning.

“Those were the innings they scored crooked runs in. Other than that, he was good.

“We didn’t really figure — boy he’s been tough on us, Davies has been tough on us, and the young man can pitch, you see why he’s won 16 games now, but Gio pitched well, then those two innings like I said when he walked the pitcher and the pitcher got the base hit to start the inning.”

“He’s having a really, really good season,” Brewers’ skipper Craig Counsell said when he was asked about beating Gonzalez, “... one of the better seasons from a pitcher in the National League, so to beat a guy like this and to put five runs on the board against him, and really a bunch of baserunners, we did a nice job tonight for sure.”

As for his own starter?

“Zach is putting together a run where he’s just in control of every game he’s been out there,” Counsell said. “That’s really what you feel and it’s when Zach is going good he’s got use of four pitches, he can do different things with his fastball, so sometimes it’s even more than that, and the hitter is just off-balance, not necessarily like off-balance, but has a lot to defend, as they say, and with four pitches, and four quality pitches, I think that’s what Zach is able to do.”

“It was just bad breaks,” Gonzalez added. “We got some good pitches that we made and they found a way to get that ball down on the ground and through hole, so that was just today’s outcome.”