The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen had logged a lot of innings—38.2 of them since June 25—so a solid outing from a starter would be like an early Independence Day gift.
Kyle Lohse provided that relief for the relievers, working eight innings of four-hit ball as the Brewers won their second in a row Wednesday night, 4-1 over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
Lohse (4-6) walked just one batter and had seven strikeouts. The only blemish was a seventh inning solo home run by Anthony Rendon. Lohse threw 103 pitches, 71 of them for strikes.
Francisco Rodriguez worked around a walk and a single in the ninth to earn his seventh save.
Ross Detwiler of the Nationals matched zeroes with until the fifth, when Milwaukee led off the frame with a double to left-center field by Sean Halton and Logan Schafer reached on a bunt single to push Halton to third. After a Lohse sacrifice moved Schafer up to second, Norichika Aoki rifled a single up the middle to score both runners and give the Crew a 2-0 lead.
The Brewers added two more in the sixth. After Bryce Harper botched Aramis Ramirez’s liner to left field for an error, Jonathan Lucroy singled up the middle to put two men on. Two outs later, Schafer crushed a Detwiler offering into the gap in right-center field, scoring Ramirez and Lucroy with a stand-up triple. The unearned tallies gave the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
Milwaukee cost themselves a run in the eighth, however, with some terrible base running. With Ramirez on third and Rickie Weeks at first with one out, Halton smashed a long fly to the warning track in center field.
That’s where the comedy of errors began. Weeks, thinking there were already two outs, took off like a shot on contact. Ramirez, meanwhile, tagged up and ambled slowly toward the plate. Span’s long throw bounced to first base to double off Weeks before the leisurely paced Ramirez could reach home plate.
Rodriguez came on to work the bottom of the ninth and made it interesting, needing 22 pitches to get out of the frame. After fanning Harper to start the inning, Ryan Zimmerman grounded a single to right field and took second on defensive indifference. Rodriguez struck out Adam LaRoche on a high fastball, then walked Ian Desmond to bring the tying run to the plate.
Rendon, who had homered earlier, hit a fly to reasonably deep center field, but Carlos Gomez was able to track it down to end it.
Lohse lived in the air throughout his eight innings of work, getting 16 outs on fly balls. Gomez made a couple of highlight-reel catches on Harper drives, going back to the wall to track down a Harper drive in the first inning and running down a liner into the gap to rob the 2012 Rookie of the Year of extra bases with a leaping grab in the fourth.
Harper returned the favor in the fifth, tracking down a long drive by Gomez to left field to take away extra bases.
After surrendering 10 runs in the series opener on Monday night, Brewer pitching has surrendered just one run in the last two games—both victories.
It’s the Brewers’ first back-to-back wins since June 21-22 over the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park.
The series in D.C. concludes with a rare Thursday morning game—first pitch is set for 11:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Times. Donovan Hand (0-1) will start for the Crew and Taylor Jordan (0-1) takes the ball for the Nationals. Milwaukee returns home to start a six-game home stand on Friday when the New York Mets come to Miller Park.
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