WASHINGTON -- Michael Blazek's first Major League start made history for the wrong reasons, providing an ugly finish to a bad road trip for the Brewers -- who have a huge homestand ahead.
The Crew saw all of its 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central -- and then some -- erased while losing eight of 10 games in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington. A tough trip was capped by the Brewers' most lopsided loss all season, 15-2, to the Nationals on Thursday, as Blazek became the first pitcher in Major League history to surrender five home runs in an inning and the first pitcher to start a game and surrender six homers without getting through the third.
"That's not how I pictured it going," Blazek said.
The Brewers will have to regroup in a hurry, since they begin a critical homestand Friday against the first-place Cubs, followed by the charging Cardinals. Those series follow a road trip on which the Brewers were outscored, 58-37, despite an 8-0 win on Tuesday night in Washington.
"We're looking forward to the [Cubs] series. It's on to the next challenge," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "It's going to be a good atmosphere at home. It's always crazy when the Cubs come to town. … It's a day to turn the page."
Blazek's spot start in place of the injured Matt Garza began with a Bryce Harper two-run home run in the first inning, and it continued with five homers in the third, including four in a row from Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Harper and Ryan Zimmerman before Blazek recorded the first out of the frame.
Daniel Murphy snapped the streak with a lazy flyout to center field before Anthony Rendon ended Blazek's afternoon with another solo homer for an 8-0 Nationals lead.
It all started with a leadoff walk to the opposing pitcher, Max Scherzer.
"It just kept building and building and snowballing after that," Blazek said.
The right-hander was a viable choice to start, despite the fact his first 108 Major League appearances had come in relief, because he'd started 10 times this season for Triple-A Colorado Springs with a 2.89 ERA in those games. After Harper's homer, Blazek retired five in a row through the end of the second inning, including four straight strikeouts. Then it all fell apart.
"The first time through the lineup, I thought he did a nice job. Obviously he made the mistake to Harper in the first inning, but there was a bunch of swings and misses the first time around," Counsell said. "Seemingly with the walk to Scherzer leading off the third, it unraveled for him.
"I wasn't expecting that, certainly. They just got on it from there on out. We didn't have any answers after that."
The Nationals' record-setting inning conjured memories of Brewers games past. Their five home runs in an inning tied the Major League record, last matched by Milwaukee in April 2006 against the Reds.
And the last Major League pitcher to serve-up four consecutive home runs was also a Brewer, Dave Bush, against the D-backs in August 2010.
"The only thing I would say is, 'Those guys can hit,'" said Hernan Perez, who provided a bright spot at the end of the game when he became the first Brewers position player to pitch in more than three years. "They are in first place for one reason, and that's because they hit. I tip my hat against them."