WASHINGTON — Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke thought starter Matt Garza threw some good pitches Saturday night. They certainly were good for Washington to hit.
Garza was knocked out in the first inning of his shortest major league start, and Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos drove in three runs apiece to lead the Nationals over the Brewers 8-3.
"Call it what you want, man, just wasn’t a good day," Garza said.
Garza (6-7) faced eight batters and got just one out, allowing four singles, a double and two walks in the shortest of his 211 regular-season big league starts dating to 2006. His previous low was 1 1/3 innings at the Marlins on June 18, 2010, according to STATS.
"He didn’t throw the ball that bad," Roenicke insisted.
Garza had been 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA in his previous eight outings, but Saturday’s effort caused his season ERA to rise from 3.69 to 4.04. He dropped to 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals.
He was lifted after 42 pitches.
Tanner Roark (9-6) gave up one runs and six hits in seven innings with five strikeouts. In his first full season as a starter, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of 19 outings.
"It’s a lot weight off my shoulders whenever we get five runs in the first," he said.
Roark took over the team lead in wins, one ahead of Doug Fister.
Against a Milwaukee team that Washington manager Matt Williams said hits both fastballs and curveballs well, Roark relied more on his slider than his curve.
"I actually changed my grip on it, so that helped out a lot," Roark said, adding he learned the grip from Jordan Zimmermann. "I’ve been able to throw it a lot harder."
Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the Brewers, tied with St. Louis atop the NL Central.
Denard Span led off the first with a single and, after Anthony Rendon struck out, Werth blooped a double to right.
Adam LaRoche’s walked loaded the bases, and Zimmerman bounced a single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.
"I felt fine. Nothing felt off, " Garza said. "Just … started off the game with a gem-shot single. … Another bad break, and then Zimm hit a four-hopper up the middle."
Bryce Harper’s eight-pitch walk reloaded the bases, Ian Desmond’s dribbler for an infield single drove in a run and Ramos chased Garza with a two-run single. Ramos is 24 for 61 (.393) with nine RBIs in his last 17 games.
"You want to be aggressive and you’ve got an opportunity for a crooked number there," Williams said. "I think the big at bat there was Wilson’s. He got behind, got to two strikes, and got a slider out. That’s a big cushion there."
Milwaukee got a run in the second when Jonathan Lucroy doubled, stole third and scored when Ramos’s throw skipped into left field for third first of two errors by the catcher.
Run-scoring singles by Ramos in the third and Zimmerman in the fourth made it 7-1 against Marco Estrada, who pitched 5 2-3 innings of relief. Zimmerman is 26 for 75 (.347) with 17 RBIs since June 24.
LaRoche added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
NOTES: Williams said RHP Jordan Zimmermann, who left his last start in the fourth inning due to a right biceps cramp, threw a good bullpen session Saturday and is to start Tuesday at Colorado. … Milwaukee RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.68) opposes LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.56) in Sunday’s series finale. … Singer Austin Mahone, on hand to perform a postgame concert, threw the ceremonial first pitch.