After Gio Gonzalez successfully earned his 20th win of the season and our DC squad grabbed a playoff birth earlier this weekend, the Nationals weren’t able to secure a win nor a series victory Sunday, as the Brewers held them off 6-2. Milwaukee, now just two games back of the second wild card spot in the National League, improves to 79-73, while the Nats drop to 92-60 with just ten games remaining in the regular season. The Braves also defeated the Phillies 2-1 Sunday afternoon, halting the Nats’ magic number at six.
Former reliever Chien-Ming Wang got the start for the Nats, and while he only gave up two runs in four innings of work, he did not look sharp. In the 1st, he’d barely get out of a jam after Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun both singled to open the game. After surrendering two more hits in the 2nd and 3rd innings combined, Bryce Harper would lose a fly ball in the sun that allowed Braun to reach second base to open the 4th. Corey Hart then singled to put two aboard, and a Jonathan Lucroy RBI single and Logan Schafer RBI double would give the Brew Crew a 2-0 lead to end the inning.
Despite Wang’s poor outing, the Nats would fight back in the 5th. An Ian Desmond leadoff walk and Danny Espinosa double would put runners quickly on second and third base for none other than the Goon Squad Captain, Chad Tracy, who was serving as a pinch-hitter. Tracy played the Yovani Gallardo pitch perfectly, dropping a single into right that scored Desmond. Just two pitches later, Jayson Werth smoked a sac fly to left that allowed Espinosa to score. 2-2 ballgame!
Unfortunately, the Brewers would continue to play like a team fighting for a playoff spot until the game’s conclusion. In the top of the 7th, a Weeks single, Braun fielder’s choice, Aramis Ramirez double, and Hart intentional walk would load the bases for the already productive catcher Lucroy. Lucroy would successfully reach bases on an infield single to Desmond, giving Milwaukee the lead and keeping the bases juiced. Pinch hitter Carlos Gomez would tack another one on the scoreboard with a single to right, and Jean Segura earned the fifth run for the away team on an RBI groundout to the shortstop. 5-2 Brewers through seven.
The Brewers would earn one final run in the 8th on a Braun sac fly, and terrific relief pitching kept runners off the base paths for the Nats for the rest of the game.
Champ of the Game: Not a lot of bright spots for the Nationals in this one, but Tracy’s RBI single was certainly clutch and gave the Nats a much needed run to get the team going. Tracy’s now batting an extremely commendable .289 on the season.
For the Brewers, Ryan Braun continues to be one of the league’s top sluggers year after year. He went 2-3 with 2 runs, an RBI, and a walk Sunday.