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Washington Nationals strike out 17 times in 1-0 loss to Milwaukee Brewers

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Washington’s hitters had trouble making contact last night, striking out 17 times as Milwaukee’s starter, Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers’ pen dominated on the mound.

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

Milwaukee Brewers’ right-hander Jimmy Nelson (11), lefty reliever Josh Hader (3) and closer Corey Knebel (3) combined for 17 strikeouts last night in the Brewers’ 1-0 win over the Washington Nationals, mowing down one batter after another and holding the Nats to just three hits total in the shutout win.

Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ second straight loss in Miller Park that it was obvious his hitters weren’t seeing the ball well, at least against Nelson.

“He was tough to pick up,” Baker said. “He had us swinging at a few high fastballs and a lot of breaking balls in the dirt below the zone, and so evidently we weren’t picking it up, because most of them were in the dirt, a lot of 3-2 breaking balls, and the guys just didn’t pick it up tonight. Seems like we were swinging at motion versus swinging at the ball.”

Nelson matched a career-high in Ks and earned his 11th win of the season.

"I think he had his good stuff going tonight," Jayson Werth told MLB.com after going 0 for 3 with two Ks on the night.

"These are big games for them. Not that they're not for us, but I think he was fired up. He's usually pretty good, but I think tonight he had a little something else in the tank for us."

“He was tough,” Baker added, “but like I said, we helped him swinging at a lot of balls. We had not a bunch of opportunities, we had first and third, nobody out, and then we had bases loaded and one out and we kind of had him on the ropes, that was the only time we had him on the ropes and we just couldn’t come up with that hit.”

After Nelson was done for the night, Hader tore through the Nationals’ hitters in a 12-pitch, 11-strike, 1-2-3 eighth, and Knebel worked around a two-out walk to Werth in a 20-pitch, 12-strike ninth in which he earned his 32nd save of the season.

Baker was asked it that was, combined, one of the better pitching performances his team has seen this season?

“LIke I said, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities and this team usually doesn’t strike out like that, so that was just evident that the guys weren’t picking the ball up here.”

Daniel Murphy, in particular, seemed to have a rough night, going 0 for 4 with three Ks for just the second three-K game of the season for the Nats’ second baseman, who did not strike out three times in a game at all in his first season with the Nationals in 2017.

In two games in Miller Park this weekend, Murphy is a combined 1 for 7 with a walk and five Ks. Baker, who’s talked before giving Murphy days off recently about seeing signs the veteran infielder is tired, or his bat has slowed, reiterated that for Murphy, and the rest of the Nats, it was more about not being able to pick up the ball than anything else.

What did he see from Murphy?

“Just that he was swinging at balls up in the zone, and they were balls, and like I said, it didn’t look like he was picking it up, and by the time he was picking it up it was too late when you see it was a ball.”