WASHINGTON (AP) — Not every game is a must-win for the Milwaukee Brewers. Not yet, anyway.
The team that’s been both surging and limping in the NL wild card race can afford the occasional clunker, as long as it’s just occasional.
What manager Ron Roenicke really could use — but is impossible to find this time of year — is a few days to let Ryan Braun and a couple of other players rest some nagging injuries.
The Brewers were out of it in a hurry Saturday, giving up a pair of three-run homers in the fourth inning in a 10-4 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak came to an emphatic halt, rookie Wily Peralta (2-1) had his first rough outing in the majors, and the deficit in the wild-card chase fell to 2 games after St. Louis Cardinals finished off the Chicago Cubs a few minutes later.
“Obviously we can’t afford to do this again. Somewhere down the road, maybe. But tomorrow we’ve got to come out and play a good game,” Roenicke said. “I don’t feel like we have to win every single game the rest of the season — I don’t feel that — but I tell you what: We better win most of them or almost all of them. Even if we get help, we need to really play well. And that’s why tomorrow and the next day are so important.”
The only consolation in a game that was out of hand so early was that Roenicke was able to pull left fielder Braun and first baseman Corey Hart early.
Roenicke said before the game that Braun is dealing with groin problems, and Hart recently returned after missing eight games with a foot injury.
In addition, Roenicke said center fielder Carlos Gomez, who already had a bruised foot, jammed a quad trying to beat out a grounder in the seventh inning.
All three are expected to play Sunday, but Roenicke said if this were the middle of the season, those players would be getting some time off. That’s a luxury he can’t afford right now.
Regarding Braun, the manager said: “He’ll be out there again tomorrow, but we can’t have him go down and then say we’re going to try to win this thing if he goes down the rest of the time. So that’s why I want to make sure and get him out of there in a game we’re going to have a tough time winning and just prevent the big injury. I know he’s still going to be sore, but prevent him being out a while.”
Braun didn’t want to talk about his health, saying simply “I’m good” when asked about it, although he then walked with a slight limp into the trainer’s room.
Peralta lasted only 2 2-3 innings in his fourth major league start, giving up three runs and five hits, along with four walks and a wild pitch.
Shortstop Jean Segura’s throwing error in a three-run third didn’t help, nor did a Nationals Park mound that the rookie starter found to be steeper than what he’s used to.
“It’s not my best day today,” Peralta said. “I made difficult pitches; they’re still hitting them. But those days are going to happen.”
Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (20-8) had another masterful day, becoming the majors’ first 20-game winner this year, as well as the first pitcher for a Washington baseball team with 200 strikeouts since Walter Johnson in 1916.
Gonzalez took a shutout into the sixth inning, when the Brewers scored pair of unearned runs. Norichika Aoki doubled leading off, advanced when Rickie Weeks’ shot to deep center ticked off Bryce Harper’s glove for what was ruled an error, and scored on Braun’s RBI groundout. Aramis Ramirez tacked on a sacrifice fly.
In the ninth, Milwaukee’s Taylor Green hit a two-run homer off reliever Christian Garcia.
NOTES: The Brewers will start RHP Yovani Gallardo (16-8) on Sunday, while the Nationals will use RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-3) as a spot starter to keep their rotation on regular rest after a doubleheader Wednesday. … RF Aoki threw out Michael Morse at the plate for the last out of the second. Morse tried to score on Kurt Suzuki’s fly ball.