MILWAUKEE -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis spoke for many hitters who have found themselves overpowered by Nationals ace Max Scherzer -- a noted bully to hitters across the league."That guy's eaten my lunch more than a few times," said Nieuwenhuis, who struck out in each of his first seven career plate appearances
MILWAUKEE -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis spoke for many hitters who have found themselves overpowered by Nationals ace Max Scherzer -- a noted bully to hitters across the league.
"That guy's eaten my lunch more than a few times," said Nieuwenhuis, who struck out in each of his first seven career plate appearances against Scherzer.
On Friday night at Miller Park, however, Nieuwenhuis and another unlikely source, Keon Broxton, took their lunches right back, homering off Scherzer to lead the Brewers to a 5-3 win over the Nationals.
"I think it's a good win when you're going up against a pitcher like Max Scherzer," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I thought we did a really nice job against him."
The Brewers took advantage of an uncharacteristic three consecutive walks from Scherzer -- who has walked just 1.61 batters per nine innings in two seasons as a National -- for two runs in the first, but trailed, 3-2, when Counsell lifted starter Zach Davies for Broxton to lead off the fifth.
"We didn't know much about the kid," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Broxton.
They quickly learned something as Broxton tied the game.
In his 65th plate appearance, Broxton launched a hanging slider into the Milwaukee bullpen to tie the game with his first career homer and second career extra-base hit.
"Oh, man, it was awesome," Broxton said. "I've always watched him pitch and wondered how guys get hits off him. To come in and put some good wood on the ball is awesome. It feels amazing."
When he called upon Broxton to pinch-hit, Counsell said he was hoping the speedy 26-year-old could simply get on base and then create problems with this legs. What resulted, a 390-foot blast, was acceptable for the Crew and its skipper.
"That's a tough pinch-hit, for sure," Counsell said. "We were hoping he'd get on base, but I think he got a slider that was up in the zone and he put a big swing on it. I'm very happy for him."
Given Nieuwenhuis' history against Scherzer, his homer was just as unforeseen. Scherzer blew Nieuwenhuis away with fastballs -- 96 mph and 94 mph, respectively -- for strikeouts in both of his first two plate appearances, making it seven strikeouts in seven career at-bats in the matchup.
But in the sixth, with Scherzer behind in the count, 2-1, and his velocity dipping into the low 90s, Nieuwenhuis not only drew even, but put the Brewers in front, 5-3, with a no-doubter for his fourth dinger.
"That one, he missed his spot," Nieuwenhuis said. "Left it out over the plate a little bit, and I was able to put a good swing on it."
When all was said and done, the Brewers tagged Scherzer for five runs and the loss in six innings. The right-hander finished with a game score of 43 out of 100, his third-lowest this season and the seventh-lowest out of 49 starts with Washington.
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.