Brewers 4, Nationals 2
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Damian Miller’s timing is impeccable.
On a day dedicated to fans from his hometown of La Crosse, Wisc., Miller capped his three-RBI performance with a two-run double in the eighth inning that gave Milwaukee a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
“Yeah, that’s always nice to get a big hit with 40 busloads of fellow cheeseheads from western Wisconsin on hand,” Miller said. “I tried to give them some props when I was standing on second.”
After Russell Branyan drew an intentional walk to set up the double play in the eighth, Miller sent a full-count pitch to the gap in left center to break a 2-2 tie.
“He left the ball up in the zone where I could get some air under it,” Miller said. “I didn’t hit it all that great. He’s got pretty good stuff.”
Said Majewski: “If the pitch would’ve broke, it would’ve been a groundball to the shortstop.”
Miller almost ended up the goat because of his aggressive baserunning in the eighth.
With runners at the corners and one out, Weeks sent Luis Ayala’s 10th pitch of the at-bat bouncing back to the mound. Ayala jumped and snared the comebacker at full extension, then whirled and had Miller caught about 35 feet off third base with no chance to get back safely or break for the plate.
“I was in no man’s land. It’s one of those where you’ve got to go,” Miller said. “And we were two inches away from scoring a run,” Miller said. “The pitcher just made a great play. When you read it, you think it’s going to go over his head and then it’s not, so you get caught in between.”
Majewski (2-1) got the final out of the seventh inning when he struck out All-Star Carlos Lee, who tied a career high with four strikeouts for the second time in a week.
Both starting pitchers took advantage of the rare series-opening day game and the resulting shadows that crept across the infield.
Nationals right-hander John Patterson struck out a career-high nine, including the side twice, in six innings. Brewers left-hander Doug Davis tied his career high with nine strikeouts in seven stellar innings.
Patterson allowed seven hits and one walk, while Davis allowed four hits and two walks.
Preston Wilson hit his first homer for the Nationals, a solo shot in the second that gave Washington a brief 1-0 lead. He was acquired Wednesday from Colorado, where he led the Rockies with 15 homers and 45 RBIs.
“It’s a great opportunity to come to a team that’s playing great baseball,” Wilson said. “I think anybody who plays the game wants to be a part of something like that.”
Wilson could be just what the NL East-leading Nationals need for a lineup that has produced the fewest runs in the major leagues and is tied for the fewest homers. With cleanup hitter Nick Johnson on the disabled list, the Nationals were reduced to using utility players such as Carlos Baerga and Wil Cordero in the No. 4 spot in the order. Jose Guillen batted cleanup Thursday and struck out three times.
The Brewers manufactured a run in the bottom of the second to tie it at 1. Bill Hall singled, stole second, took third on Branyan’s flyout and scored on Miller’s sacrifice fly to right.
Jose Vidro’s groundout scored Brad Wilkerson from third base in the third inning to give Washington a 2-1 lead, and the Brewers tied it again when Geoff Jenkins hit his 10th homer in the sixth inning.
Jenkins started the game-winning rally in the eighth with a single.
“It was nice to see Damian come up with the big hit,” Jenkins said. “It seemed like he had a million people here to see him.”
Brewers GM Doug Melvin said the status of manager Ned Yost won’t be determined until later in the season. The club holds the option for 2006. Melvin also has a year left on his contract and it’s likely his deal would be extended before Yost’s. … Told before the game he had used 61 different lineups in his first 88 games, Nationals manager Frank Robinson said, “I would have guessed 88.”