Claudio Vargas is hoping to make the most of his return to the starting rotation.
Vargas allowed one unearned run and six hits in six innings Wednesday, but did not receive a decision in the Nationals’ 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Vargas began the season on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow and had not started since Sept. 17 at Philadelphia.
Vargas started 20 games for the Montreal Expos in 2003 and was named the team’s pitcher of the month in June of that season. However, he spent most of the second half of last season in the bullpen, and Wednesday’s start was just his second since June 18.
Catcher Brian Schneider said that Vargas looked better against the Diamondbacks
“He came in today and threw a lot of offspeed pitches for strikes,” Schneider said. “He threw a good share of sinkers. He did great mixing his pitches. He wasn’t relying on his fastball.
“That’s how he got hurt last time. When he would fall behind, he would just throw his fastball and get hit around.”
Washington won its third straight on Monday, beating Milwaukee 5-2 in the series opener. Marlon Byrd, acquired Saturday from the Philadelphia Phillies for Endy Chavez, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his Nationals debut.
Washington manager Frank Robinson said he plans to start Byrd, who spent some time in the minors last season after finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2003, against left-handed pitchers.
“You want to get a guy in as soon as you can so you know what he possibly could do for you,” Robinson said. “If he is swinging the bat anywhere like he was swinging it in ’03, he certainly can help this club.”
Vinny Castilla went 3-for-4 with his fourth homer of the season for the Nationals.
Carlos Lee homered for the Brewers, who have lost three straight since a three-game winning streak.