WASHINGTON (AP)—Asked to start after spending most of last two seasons in the bullpen, Seth McClung turned in a strong performance. He stayed ahead of hitters, didn’t overthrow and displayed composure.
“It’s probably unlike any start I’ve ever had (due) to the fact that I was getting ahead, staying ahead, being able to execute my pitches,” said McClung. “I’ve learned so much since I’ve toed the rubber as a starter.”
Replacing ineffective Carlos Villanueva in the rotation, McClung (2-1) allowed two runs and four hits over five innings. He walked none and struck out four in his first start since June 18, 2006 with Tampa Bay.
“It was better than I was looking for,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He kept his pitch count down, got good quick outs—nice job.”
McClung checked the Nationals on one hit—a drag bunt single by Lastings Milledge in the second inning—through the first four innings, getting ahead of nine of the 13 hitters he faced. The victory was his first as a starter since May 12, 2006.
“I just want to do whatever this team needs. I pushed my personal goals and my personal issues aside a long time ago. … I feel like they really rescued me from where I was,” said McClung, who flamed out as a starter and failed as a closer in Tampa Bay.
The Brewers had lost seven of nine games overall and dropped nine of 11 on the road.
“How about just winning, period?” Cameron responded when asked about the rare road victory. “Winning on the road, whatever—just developing a little more consistency, trying to stay away from long losing streaks.”
Hart’s two-run homer, his fifth of the year, put Milwaukee up 2-0 in the fourth. Cameron led off with a double to center and Hart ripped a two-out, 2-1 pitch from John Lannan (4-5) into the left-field visitor’s bullpen.
Rickie Weeks’ sacrifice fly made it 3-0 in the fifth. His fly ball to left scored Bill Hall, who hit a leadoff single, moved to second on McClung’s sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on Lannan’s balk.
Washington pulled within a run in the fifth. Milledge led off the fifth with a solo shot, his second homer of the year and first since March 31. Elijah Dukes hit a one-out single, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Wil Nieves’ double to right.
Lannan (4-5) went five innings, allowing three runs and five hits. He walked none and struck out four.
“I think he battled for us.” Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Lannan. “I think he made a couple of mistakes. He hung a breaking ball to Hart and the balk hurt him.”
Lannan said he struggled with his fastball control.
“I wasn’t really commanding it on the outside of the plate and I had trouble going inside. I had my changeup today, which helped out a little bit, but the fastball wasn’t there for me and I kind of got away from it in that one inning,” Lannan said.
Cameron led off the eighth with a homer to left off reliever Jesus Colome.
After the game, the Brewers optioned OF Tony Gwynn Jr. to Triple-A Nashville and purchased the contract of IF Russell Branyan from the Sounds. Yost said Branyan would start at third base Sunday. … Milledge’s homer marked the first time this season that Nationals outfielders have homered in successive games. Wily Mo Pena hit his first homer Friday night. … 3B Hall committed two errors in the ninth inning, booting Dmitri Young’s grounder and sailing a throw to second on a potential game-ending double play. … Needing some infield depth in the minor leagues, Washington signed 34-year-old Pokey Reese, who last played in the majors in 2004, to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.