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Washington Nationals three-game winning streak ends in 9-6 loss to Milwaukee Brewers

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Javy Guerra had all kinds of trouble in the bottom of the eighth and the Brewers evened things up in the three-game series in Milwaukee.

Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Trailing 3-1 after four and a half, the Milwaukee Brewers rallied to tie it and take the lead with a three-run fifth, but Washington Nationals’ left fielder Yadiel Hernández hit a homer to left-center field in the top of the sixth to make it a 4-4 game. It was tied at 4-4 until the Brewers’ eighth, when a catcher’s interference call, a single, and a hit-by-pitch with Javy Guerra on the mound loaded the bases before the reliever hit Kolten Wong with one out to force in the go-ahead run, 5-4 Brewers, and 9-4 on a Christian Yelich grand slam, in a 9-6 win.

Espino vs MIL: In his last two starts, which were separated by a relief appearance, Nationals’ righty Paolo Espino gave up 16 hits, three walks, and 11 earned runs in nine innings, and he talked after the second of the two starts about the league adjusting to him the more he’s in the majors.

“Yeah, definitely. This is a game of adjustments, yeah,” the 34-year-old pitcher said.

“The more I pitch, the more they can see, so I also need to work on stuff to change and not be predictable. I’m working on that.”

Overall on the year, those outings left Espino with a 4.53 ERA, 10 walks, 32 strikeouts, and a .286/.323/.519 line against in 11 starts and 47 23 IP as a starter.

Espino took the mound this afternoon with a 2-0 lead, but gave a run back on a one-out solo shot to center by Christian Yelich, who got all of a first-pitch fastball from the Nats’ starter and hit it out for his 7th of 2021, 2-1.

That’s all Espino gave up through four, which he completed on 63 pitches, but a one-out walk to Lorenzo Cain and a single to right by Kolten Wong ended his outing after just 79 pitches in 4 13 IP.

Paolo Espino’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 79 P, 54 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

Lauer vs D.C.: In his last seven games (six starts) and 35 13 IP, Brewers’ lefty Eric Lauer had put up a 1.53 ERA, 12 walks, 32 Ks, and a .181/.257/.244 line against, leaving him with a 3.44 ERA, 26 walks, 73 Ks, and a .227/.295/.379 line against in 16 games, 12 starts, and 73 13 IP in 2021 overall.

Lauer missed a couple weeks on the COVID-IL, but returned to throw four innings against the Pirates in which he gave up just three hits and a run, while still feeling the effects of it.

“I was definitely breathing a little heavier than normal,” Lauer said, as quoted on MLB.com.

“Because I was trying to breathe through my mouth since my nose is still a little congested, and it kind of burns a little bit.”

Another five days removed from his battle with COVID, Lauer took the mound this afternoon and fell behind early, with Lane Thomas lining a ground-rule double to right field and off the track into the stands, Alcides Escobar reaching via HBP, and Juan Soto singling to center to make it 1-0 game. Escobar took third on the single, and scored on a sac fly to center field by Ryan Zimmerman in the next at bat, 2-0.

It was 2-1 in the fifth, when Thomas singled with one out and scored on a double to left off of Alcides Escobar’s bat, 3-1, and after an intentional walk to Juan Soto, the Brewers went with a reliever...

Eric Lauer’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 76 P, 52 S, 2/6 GO/FO.

Low Key Yadi: You’re forgiven if you didn’t notice that, as the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes, Yadiel Hernández, 33, ranks fifth in Major League Baseball with a .373 batting average since July 29th (fun with small sample sizes is back!). Hernández, the Nats added, had, “hit safely in 14 of the 20 games during this stretch,” heading into today’s game in Milwaukee, going 22 for 59, with a .441 OBP, and a .593 SLG, four doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs, eight walks, and 10 runs scored in the 20 games.

Bullpen Action: Jake Cousins took over for the Brewers with runners on first and second and one out in the Nationals’ fifth, and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, and he got a force over at second for out No. 2, and more of the same for out No. 3, on a grounder to short from Carter Kieboom.

Gabe Klobosits took over for Paolo Espino with runners on the corners and one out and gave up an RBI single to right field by Christian Yelich, 3-2. Still 1st/3rd.

Klobosits got a foul pop behind home near the first base dugout for out No. 2, but Ryan Zimmerman, catcher Tres Barrera, and the starter converged on the ball which Zim got, before they all realized no one was covering home. Kolten Wong tagged and scored on what’s probably the shortest sac fly in history, 3-3, before Eduardo Escobar hit a single through the middle, 4-3 Brewers.

The home team’s lead didn’t last long, as Yadiel Hernández went out to left-center on a 2-0 fastball from reliever Brent Suter that cleared the fence and tied things up, 4-4. Hernández with another opposite field blast, and his 6th HR overall in 2021.

Ryne Harper got the bottom of the sixth for the Nationals, and gave up a leadoff single by Luis Urías, who tagged and tried to take second on a fly to center by Jace Peterson in the next at bat, but got doubled up on a strong throw in by Lane Thomas, 8-6 DP. Harper got Jackie Bradley, Jr. swinging for out No. 3 of an 8-pitch, six-strike sixth.

Brad Boxberger got the seventh for the home team and gave up back-to-back, one-out hits by Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman, but both of them were stranded. Still 4-4.

Harper got another inning of work in the bottom of the seventh, and got one out before he hit Kolten Wong.

Andres Machado took over and got out No. 2 on a pop-up by Christian Yelich, but he hit the Brewers’ catcher, Omar Narváez to put two on with two out, and walked Eduardo Escobar to load the bases in front of Rowdy Tellez, who popped out to third to end the threat. Still 4-4.

Brewers’ righty Devin Williams retired the Nationals in order in the top of the eighth.

Javy Guerra took over for the Nats in the bottom of the eighth, and with Luis Urías up, a call of catcher’s interference on a swing that caught Tres Barrera’s glove put the leadoff man on, and Urías took third on a Jace Peterson single, and a HBP on Jackie Bradley, Jr. loaded them up in front of Willy Adames, who got to a full count and popped up to short left for out No. 1. Kolten Wong stepped in next, and took one to the numbers, 5-4 Brewers, and then 9-4 on a 454-foot grand slam to center by Christian Yelich.

Miguel Sánchez came on to end it and gave up a walk and single in front of Juan Soto, who walked to load’em up.

Josh Hader came on and struck out Ryan Zimmerman for out No. 1, but Carter Kieboom hit a single to right, 9-5. Josh Bell bit a chopper toward third and the Brewers got an out at home for out No. 2, and Tres Barrera worked the count full and walked, 9-6. Adrián Sanchez got a two-out pinch hit at bat, and K’d swinging to end it. 4 hours and 19 minutes after it started.

Final Score: 9-6 Brewers

Nationals now 53-69