Early miscues sink Hellickson, Nats

May 8th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- In losing the first two games of the series, manager Dave Martinez talked about the need for better defense, timely hitting and doing the little things that help win a game.

The injury-depleted Nationals accomplished none of those on Wednesday, and were unable to recover from three unearned runs in the first inning, en route to a 7-3 loss at Milwaukee. It was the first time the Nationals have been swept this season, and first time being swept the Brewers since May 23-25, 2011, at Miller Park.

“We keep beating ourselves right now,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to come out and just play baseball. We battled back again, but we’ve got to start playing clean baseball, stop giving other teams 30 outs and playing good baseball. If you think about it on the other end, we have 27 outs, [15] of them were strikeouts. We’ve got to start putting the ball in play.”

The Nationals trailed 7-0 before getting on the board in the sixth. Washington’s third and fourth hitters, and -- both coming off injuries -- combined for seven strikeouts in eight at-bats.

Washington threatened in the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but Josh Hader struck out pinch-hitter and . Then Nationals are now 2-18 when scoring three runs or fewer.

The only earned run allowed by starter in the first inning was Christian Yelich's one-out solo homer to right-center, his 16th this season.

Mike Moustakas then reached on an error by Rendon. Ryan Braun walked, and Eric Thames followed with an opposite-field RBI double that was misplayed down the left-field line by Eaton.

“No excuse, just a bad read,” Eaton said. “Can’t happen.”

Travis Shaw walked to load the bases. After Manny Pina struck out, Orlanda Arcia lined a two-run single to right. Thames hesitated rounding third, but then challenged right fielder . Robles, who missed the cutoff man on a three-run double by Lorenzo Cain in Tuesday night's 6-0 loss, overthrew home, allowing Thames to score easily and make it 4-0.

“We had an out at home, he just has to throw the ball down. Once again, he threw the ball over everybody’s head,” Martinez said. “It’s a conversation that I had with him today, and he did it again. So, I’ve got to talk to him again and just say, 'Hey, the ball has got to be down.'”

The miscues led to a 39-pitch first inning for Hellickson, who also walked two.

“Just a long inning. Things like that happen, you’ve just got to pick guys up and try to get out of there and minimize the damage as much as you can,” Hellickson said. “Just one of those innings you want to forget about.”

Hellickson allowed two more runs in the second when Moustakas followed Yelich's one-out single with his ninth homer of the year.

Pina made it 7-0 in the fifth with his first off homer in 2019 off Matt Grace.

The Nationals finally snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak in the sixth, on singles by and Eaton, and Robles' sacrifice fly to left.

The Nationals managed just one run on four singles in six innings off Brandon Woodruff, who did not have a quality start in his first seven outings. Woodruff struck out a career-high nine and walked none.

The Nationals added two runs on three hits in the seventh off Matt Albers. doubled to open the inning, and Wilmer Difo followed with an RBI single. Difo advanced to third on Michael A. Taylor's one-out double. 's pinch-hit sacrifice fly to center scored Difo.

“Our pitching staff’s not throwing bad. Defensively, myself included, we’re not playing good defensively,” Eaton said. “And, like I said, now timely hitting isn’t all that timely, so it’s been a struggle. Our pitching staff has continued to keep us in games. We’ve just got to fight back and find a away to score some runs.”