Nationals' bats cool off as streak stops at six

Nationals' bats cool off as streak stops at six

Nationals' bats cool off as streak stops at six
MILWAUKEE -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson could tell early on Friday night that his club wasn't likely to continue its offensive surge.

Washington had scored five runs or more in six straight games, and nine of its last 11, but Brewers rookie Mike Fiers didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and only allowed three more after that -- all four hits going for singles -- in the Nationals' 6-0 loss before a crowd of 35,858 at Miller Park.

When Ross Detwiler ran into trouble for the second straight inning and Milwaukee built up a 3-0 lead, Johnson decided it wasn't worth running up Detwiler's pitch count. So, Johnson gave him the early hook after 4 2/3 innings even though he'd only thrown 83 pitches.

"I could tell by the way we were hitting the ball that if he kept throwing it over, we were going to have a hard time scoring," Johnson said. "It's just one of those days."

It turned out to be one of those days in just about every way for the Nationals, and they saw their six-game winning streak come to an end. It was the third time this season Washington has been shut out.

Detwiler lost for the first time since May 19 and snapped the rotation's seven-game streak of throwing six innings or more. The Brewers scored all of their runs with two outs and wreaked havoc on the basepaths when they had a chance against reliever Craig Stammen, stealing three bases in a four-run fifth inning. And Washington's recently scorching lineup went ice cold against Fiers' high arm angle and unusual delivery.

"You very rarely see someone that's that high up. Part of it's that, and part of it is kind of deceiving, and we've never faced him," shortstop Danny Espinosa said. "Sometimes balls that you thought were probably lower than what they were ended up at your knees, and balls that you thought were at your knees were higher than what you thought."

Fiers didn't allow a runner to reach second until the sixth inning, and the Nationals didn't have much luck the rest of the way against him or relievers Livan Hernandez and Jose Veras.

"When I'm throwing all four of my pitches for strikes, it makes it a lot easier," Fiers said. "Especially against a team like the Nationals, you got to have some things working for you, or else they'll hurt you."

Detwiler hadn't spoken to Johnson about the early hook, but planned to do so Saturday, and Johnson admitted the lefty was probably confused by his logic.

"You make decisions based on what you think we're going to do, as well as where you think the pitcher's at," Johnson said. "I have no complaints with Det. He threw the heck out of the ball."

Detwiler's 4 2/3-inning start was his shortest since he went 4 1/3 on May 25. He cruised through the early going, having allowed only two singles when he struck out Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun to begin the fourth inning. But he gave up a double to Aramis Ramirez after that, and two pitches later, Corey Hart launched a two-run homer over the left-field fence. Rickie Weeks prolonged the two-out rally with a double, and Jonathan Lucroy walked. But the Brewers attempted a double-steal, and catcher Sandy Leon caught Lucroy at second.

The fifth inning took on a similar look for Detwiler. He struck out Cody Ransom and Fiers, but that was as good as it got. Norichika Aoki doubled to left, stole third, then scored on a single by Gomez. That brought an end to a disappointing outing for Detwiler, who said he wasn't far off from getting back on track.

"We lost, so it's not a good night anytime you lose," he said. "Four and two-thirds, I don't think you can feel too good about that. The first three innings were good. Build off that.

"Especially the [fifth] inning, just bad location on pitches. Hung a couple curveballs. If I execute my pitches there, I'm out of the inning. But I didn't. That's a good-hitting ballclub out there. If I make a mistake, they're going to capitalize on it."

Stammen didn't fare much better. Taking advantage of how long it takes Stammen to get to the plate, Gomez stole second and took third on Leon's errant throw. Braun singled and stole second, then Ramirez crushed a home run to left-center field.

In all: seven hits, a walk, three stolen bases and a throwing error added up to six runs over two innings, all with two outs.

"It's always been something I've had to deal with my whole career. For some reason, I'm slow to the plate with a guy on first," Stammen said. "I've got to fix that, got to get better at it. I'm trying. I'm not there yet, obviously."

Despite the stolen bases, Stammen said he was happy with the pitches he made, save the slider he left in the strike zone that Ramirez took out of the park.

"It's just the delivery time," Johnson said.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.