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Struggling Gio, Nats can't build momentum in loss

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Gio Gonzalez's body language in the clubhouse after the game told the story of another frustrating loss for the Nationals.

After reaching .500 again by beating the Braves on Sunday, Gonzalez couldn't help the Nats build momentum in a 6-1 loss to the Brewers on Monday night at Miller Park. Gonzalez was the last player sitting at his locker on a night he allowed five runs and walked five over 5 2/3 innings and a Daniel Murphy solo home run provided all of the Nationals' offense.

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MILWAUKEE -- Gio Gonzalez's body language in the clubhouse after the game told the story of another frustrating loss for the Nationals.

After reaching .500 again by beating the Braves on Sunday, Gonzalez couldn't help the Nats build momentum in a 6-1 loss to the Brewers on Monday night at Miller Park. Gonzalez was the last player sitting at his locker on a night he allowed five runs and walked five over 5 2/3 innings and a Daniel Murphy solo home run provided all of the Nationals' offense.

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Over his last eight starts, Gonzalez has a 7.32 ERA, 25 walks and 27 strikeouts.

"Just can't walk people," Gonzalez said. "Just got to go out there and be more aggressive. The balls they put in play, they found holes. That's all it was. Executed some pitches I wanted. But the results I wanted, they ended up being a different result."

Gonzalez escaped a two-walk first inning, but couldn't work around back-to-back hits to lead off the second, when Erik Kratz tied the game at 1 with a sacrifice fly. The lefty allowed two more runs in the fourth after a pair of leadoff walks, and he was charged with two more on Christian Yelich's three-run triple in the sixth.

"I've got to do a better job again, it's definitely on me," Gonzalez said. "I need to go out there and do a better job as a starter and give our team a chance to win. Can't be doing that when I'm walking people and putting their runners in position. It's just unfortunate. I've got to do a better job."

"I thought he pitched well," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "He had an inning he walked a couple guys, and it cost him a couple runs. That's the gist of it, but he came back, settled down and kept us in the ballgame."

Video: WSH@MIL: Murphy puts Nats up early with solo home run

Murphy blasted his second homer of the season to lead off the second, but the Nationals' offense struggled to solve Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. After Murphy's home run, Washington didn't record another hit off Chacin, who exited after hitting Ryan Zimmerman with a pitch with two outs in the sixth.

"We started off swinging the bats really well," Martinez said. "We hit some line drives, but then Chacin settled in. We left [eight] guys on base, but couldn't get that big hit."

Tempers flared early for the Nationals at the plate. Adam Eaton thought he drew a walk to start the game, but Chacin's 3-1 pitch was ruled a strike by home-plate umpire Nic Lentz. Eaton then lined out to center on the next pitch. Later, Nats hitting coach Kevin Long was ejected by Lentz after arguing Trea Turner's second-inning strikeout from the dugout.

"I don't argue with the umpires about balls and strikes, I really don't," Martinez said. "From where I sit, you can't really tell. I'm not going to sit there and argue unless I need to protect one of my players."

Video: WSH@MIL: Long ejected after Turner strikes out

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Zim can't make play: The Brewers loaded the bases in the sixth after Gonzalez retired the first two batters. With Sammy Solis on the mound in relief, Yelich hit a grounder down the right-field line that first baseman Zimmerman couldn't make a play on, leading to a bases-clearing triple.

Zimmerman, who came off the disabled list on Friday, started for the first time since May 9.

"[Zimmerman] typically makes that play, it's a ground ball," Martinez said. "Solis did his job and got a ground ball. Nine out of 10 times, that's an out. Just a tough break."

Video: WSH@MIL: Yelich clears the bases with a triple

TURNER WALKS OFF
Turner will likely be getting disciplined by Martinez after not running to first base on a two-out bunt attempt that bounced fair in the fourth. The Nationals' shortstop dropped his bat, threw his helmet down and began retreating to the dugout.

"Kind of self-defense, thought I was going to get hit by it, but ended up bunting it fair somehow," Turner said. "For me, by the time I got my feet underneath me, it felt like the pitcher was already standing right there. Probably should have run to first, but it's a little bit of both."

Video: WSH@MIL: Chacin retires Turner on bunt attempt in 4th

The moment did not please Martinez, who said he didn't talk to Turner about the incident during the game, but will on Tuesday.

"I thought the ball hit him," Martinez said. "I thought it hit him in the hand or something, and I was trying to see inside what they saw, and he just bunted the ball. I was just like, 'Why would he walk off the field?' In that moment, we're trying to win a ballgame, and there's a good chance he won't play tomorrow.

"I'll talk to him. But we're in the midst of trying to win a ballgame, it's close. It'll be a discussion."

SOUND SMART
Following a slow start, Murphy has heated up, hitting .433 (13-for-30) over his last 10 games. He batted .188 (13-for-69) over his first 21 games.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Zimmerman saved a run for the Nationals, too. Keon Broxton bunted toward the first-base side when the former third baseman scooped the ball barehanded and threw it to catcher Matt Wieters, who rotated to apply the tag on Hernan Perez.

Video: WSH@MIL: Zimmerman, Wieters nab Perez at home

UP NEXT
The Nationals send right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.29 ERA) to the mound for the second game of the series with the Brewers at Miller Park on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Hellickson closed the first half on a high note, allowing one earned run over 11 innings in his last two starts. Right-hander Junior Guerra (6-6, 3.23) starts for the Brewers.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Washington Nationals, Gio Gonzalez