Brewers rally for much-needed win
MILWAUKEE -- Fighting through a tough season and an offensive funk, nobody would have been surprised if the Milwaukee Brewers went down quietly after falling behind Sunday.
But the Brewers battled, got some breaks and rallied to score five runs in the sixth inning to avoid a sweep with a 8-5 victory over Washington.
"I really enjoyed this," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You get down, 3-0, and you're thinking the offense hasn't been scoring so it's going to be a little tough.
"Then you start seeing some good things happen, then a lot of good things happen and it makes you feel good, especially going on a road trip. We've got a tough time ahead of us so hopefully this is good for their confidence. It should be."
Despite not being at his best, Kyle Lohse kept the Brewers in the game by battling through five innings. Washington got to Lohse in the second inning, as the right-hander hit his first two batters of the season and gave up a long single to load the bases.
Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki followed with a two-run single to put Washington up 2-0. Washington tried to squeeze with pitcher Taylor Jordan and it appeared Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy had Steve Lombardozzi out at the plate if he fields the ball cleanly, but he rushed and missed the ball.
"Not every day is going to be easy," Lohse said. "You're not going to get every pitch. You've just got to go out there and battle and do what you can to keep the team in the game. You see what happens. You keep it close long enough and give these guys a chance, and some days it works out like this. It was a good team win."
Things began to turn for Lohse in the third inning. A four-pitch walk to Ryan Zimmerman and a Jayson Werth single gave the Nationals a pair of runners with nobody out, but Lohse struck out Adam LaRoche and got Ian Desmond to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Lohse was able to work out of trouble in the fifth inning, as he stranded Lombardozzi after his leadoff double.
"Fastball wasn't exactly going where I wanted it to, but I felt like I made a lot of really good pitches that I wasn't getting (strike calls) that kind of led into a couple of situations," Lohse said. "When the count changes from 1-1 to 2-1 instead of 1-2, it changes at-bats. I was trying to manage as well as I could and we got a good win."
A 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning felt insurmountable for the Brewers with the way their offense has been going of late, but Milwaukee scrapped its way to a big inning.
Logan Schafer started things with a single and scampered to third on Jean Segura's double. After a walk to Lucroy to load the bases, Carlos Gomez hit a bullet right at Werth in right for a sacrifice fly.
When Nationals manager Davey Johnson turned to left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, Roenicke countered with the right-handed Khris Davis to pinch hit for the left-handed Caleb Gindl.
Davis chopped one just over the reach of a leaping Zimmerman at third base for an RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-3. Juan Francisco followed by hitting a ground ball off the corner of the first base bag for an RBI double to tie the game.
Washington brought the infield in with runners at second and third, and the Brewers took advantage. Jeff Bianchi blooped a single just over the drawn in infield, scoring a pair to give Milwaukee the lead for good.
"I was just able to get a pitch that I just barely got the bat on," Bianchi said. "I was able to bloop it over short and second there and scored two runs. It was a big inning for us.
"Sometimes you're supposed to hit it where they're not, right?"
Milwaukee has struggled to capitalize when it has had runners at third with less than two outs this season, often times failing after trying to do too much. After the subject dominated the majority of Roenicke's media gathering prior to the game, the Brewers capitalized in five of the six opportunities they had in that situation Sunday.
"That was the ball game," Roenicke said. "When you succeed like that, it should help us going forward because it's going to come up a lot. You have to determine the difference when the infield is in or back and how you approach every at-bat with that guy in scoring position."
Lohse watched the five-run sixth inning in the video room. He was supposed to take the ice off of his shoulder soon after the inning started, but found himself too locked in to watching his team battle back for him.
As one of the veteran leaders in the clubhouse, Lohse has set the tone through his words and his approach that there's still plenty to play for this season. Rallying to hand playoff-contender Washington a tough loss is one of those reasons.
"It was good to see us get some of those lucky bounces," Lohse said. "The guys are battling. That's pretty good to see out there. We could have just rolled over. We didn't do that and beat a pretty good team. We're going to be playing teams that have the chance at the playoffs, and we have to take pride in making them feel a little like we are feeling right now.
"We still have a lot of season left. We can learn some stuff and learn a lot about ourselves and how we can battle even when things aren't going our way. Today was a good example of that."
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