MILWAUKEE -- Game 100 for the Nationals was like so many of the first 99.Behind Adam Eaton's three-run homer, Washington built an early four-run lead on Tuesday night at Miller Park but watched it crumble in a 5-4 extra-inning loss to the Brewers. At the century mark of an underwhelming
MILWAUKEE -- Game 100 for the Nationals was like so many of the first 99.
Behind Adam Eaton's three-run homer, Washington built an early four-run lead on Tuesday night at Miller Park but watched it crumble in a 5-4 extra-inning loss to the Brewers. At the century mark of an underwhelming campaign, the Nationals sit below .500 at 49-51 with 62 games to make something of manager Dave Martinez's inaugural season.
"We've got a lot of games [left]," Martinez said. "We can turn this around. No doubt about it. We got the guys to do it. All good teams go through a funk. [The Brewers] went through a funk, and they're good. We just got to keep on battling."
The Nationals battled for 10 innings on Tuesday, until left-hander Matt Grace loaded the bases with no outs in the first extra frame. After striking out Travis Shaw, he surrendered a one-out walk-off sacrifice fly to Tyler Saladino, sending the Nationals to their third loss in four games since the All-Star break.
"It's a tough loss," Grace said. "Feel like we are doing things right and playing the right way, and it's just for whatever reason, we see ground balls go through and they don't go through for us. That's just the way baseball is sometimes. It's not for a lack of effort or focus or anything. We know where we are at in the season, that these are obviously important games. But sometimes, you just got to battle through that stuff, I guess."
A night after managing just a solo home run on offense, Washington scored four runs early, as Eaton provided the pop with his three-run homer in the second after Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double in the first. After Eaton's clout, though, Brewers starter Junior Guerra silenced the Nationals' bats in a six-inning outing, holding Washington to two hits over his final four frames.
The Nationals managed four hits in four innings against the Brewers' bullpen, but they left three stranded, and pinch-runner Trea Turner was caught stealing.
"We just couldn't get a hit," Martinez said. "[Zimmerman] hit the ball well, [Eaton's] been doing well, but we just couldn't get that one hit that we needed. They battled. They played, had the right guys in there and couldn't pull it off."
Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson avoided early damage, despite not pitching a clean frame until the fourth. He found trouble his third time through the Brewers' lineup, which featured Christian Yelich's two-run homer in a three-run fifth inning for Milwaukee.
"I got out of one big jam," Hellickson said, "but it was just a bad pitch. If it's another guy, he'll just roll over, but [Yelich] doesn't miss too many mistakes."
Lorenzo Cain's RBI single off former Brewers reliever Brandon Kintzler completed the Brewers' four-run comeback in the seventh inning, eventually sending the game to extras.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Turner's caught stealing: Turner pinch-ran for Zimmerman after his 10th-inning single but was quickly picked off and caught stealing second base by Brewers reliever Dan Jennings.
On if Turner was told to steal, Martinez said: "We left it up to him. He doubled up, and we didn't think he'd double up, but he did. That happens."
Martinez benched Turner on Tuesday after the shortstop didn't attempt to run to first on a bunt attempt during Monday's series opener. Turner did not play in the field during the 10th inning, but he would have if Daniel Murphy, who was batting at the time of the pickoff, reached base.
• Martinez sits Turner for not running out bunt
Taylor's at first: With Bryce Harper scratched from the lineup due to a stomach bug, Michael A. Taylor got the start in center field and eventually found himself at first base in the 10th inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Nationals implemented a five-man infield, with Taylor playing toward the third-base line during Shaw's strikeout and shifting to first base when Saladino came to the plate.
"I think they were trying to hide me a little bit," Taylor said. "They were thinking [right-handed] Saladino was going to pull the ball, so I'm playing on the other side and vice versa."
Taylor played in the infield as a Minor Leaguer, and Martinez felt comfortable with him at first because he "can catch a baseball." When Taylor rotated to first, under MLB rules, he needed to switch gloves with the first baseman, which was Mark Reynolds.
Saladino's sacrifice fly took away any chance of a play for Taylor, as the game ended on Juan Soto's throw up the first-base line to home plate, but the five-man infield still forced the Brewers to be careful on the basepaths.
"Any time there's a five-man infield, there's a lot going on on both sides," Yelich said. "On the basepaths, you have to be careful to not get doubled off when you're not the lead runner, because you mean nothing. At the same time, the guy at second is trying to stay out of the batter's peripherals -- you don't want to be standing there in his vision, but you don't want to get too far off because of a line-drive double play. So everybody is on high alert there on both sides."
Anthony Rendon hit safely for his 12th straight game, tying the longest streak of his career. During the streak, Rendon is hitting .327 with 11 runs, three homers and 10 RBIs.
HE SAID IT
"I think everyone believes that we're a playoff team and a championship team. Things haven't gone our way right now, but it's a long season and we have a lot of games left. We'll just keep grinding." -- Taylor, on if there's still positivity in the Nationals' clubhouse
The Nationals send right-hander Tanner Roark (3-12, 4.87 ERA) to the mound to conclude a three-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park on Wednesday at 2:10 p.m. ET. Roark has struggled to find consistency this season, but he has a 0.64 ERA (one earned run in 14 innings) over his last two starts in Milwaukee. Rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta (4-1, 2.65) starts for the Brewers.
Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.