Sixth-inning rally saves Brewers

Andrew Wagner, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- As the most disappointing season of his brief managerial career continues, Ron Roenicke of the Milwaukee Brewers saw an all-too-familiar sight Sunday afternoon at Miller Park, as his offense struggled to put runs across the plate while his starter put the team in an early hole.
Funny, though, how quickly things can change.
Milwaukee rallied for five runs in the sixth inning, erasing a four-run deficit and avoiding a three-game sweep with an 8-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Milwaukee had managed just two runs in its previous three games and appeared to be headed toward another shutout, this time against Washington right-hander Taylor Jordan.
Jordan cruised through his first five innings, facing just three batters over the minimum -- yielding two hits and a walk -- before opening the sixth by giving up a single to Logan Schafer. Schafer moved to third on Jean Segura's double, and after Jonathan Lucroy walked, Schafer scored on Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly to right.
With runners at the corners and only one out, Nationals manager Davey Johnson summoned lefty Fernando Abad (0-3) from the bullpen.
Milwaukee got within one when Khris Davis' chopper bounced over shortstop Ian Desmond to drive in a run. Juan Francisco -- 3-for-27 against left-handers this season -- tied the game with a double down the right-field line, and Milwaukee went ahead on Jeff Bianchi's base hit into shallow center that drove in two more for a 6-4 lead.
"You get down, 3-0, and you're thinking the offense hasn't been scoring so it's going to be a little tough," Roenicke said. "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."
Jordan finished with a final line of four runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings but took his fourth loss of the season.
"He didn't make pitches," Johnson said. "It looked like he was guiding the ball a little bit. And I'm sure he was probably out of gas."
The Brewers added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, and Jim Henderson threw a scoreless ninth for his 15th save of the season.
The late offensive outburst snapped a three-game scoring drought and helped offset a rare poor start by right-hander Kyle Lohse.
Lohse hit Jayson Werth to open the second inning and, with one out, hit Desmond. Steve Lombardozzi loaded the bases with a single to center, and Kurt Suzuki made it a 2-0 game with a base hit up the middle.
Another Nationals run scored when Lucroy couldn't hold on to Jordan's pop bunt, giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead, before Denard Span and Bryce Harper ended the inning with fly outs to left.
"I don't think I (had) hit a guy all year," Lohse said. "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. When the count changes from 1-1 to 2-1 instead of 1-2, it changes the at bats. I was trying to manage as well as I could and we got a good win."
It would be a short start for Lohse, who came into the game with a 6-1 record and 2.29 ERA in his last 12 appearances. Sunday, he hit two batters and allowed a walk over his five-inning effort, finishing with three runs allowed -- only two earned -- on five hits with two strikeouts.
"He did a nice job of keeping us in the ballgame even though his command wasn't as good as usual," Roenicke said. "It's tough because we needed him to go a ways and keep us in the ball game. Once he got through that inning, he did a nice job."
Adam LaRoche hit his 16th home run of the season in the sixth, a solo shot against Milwaukee right-hander John Axford (5-4), and Anthony Rendon hit his fifth of the season to open the seventh.
Rendon's homer came off Michael Gonzalez, who retired the next two batters before Brandon Kintzler ended the inning on a Ryan Zimmerman groundout.
"We had plenty of opportunities to add on (to the lead), we just didn't do it," Johnson said. "That's been kind of the scenario all year. Get runners in scoring position, don't swing the bat, get the big hit. That was particularly tough. I mean, we had a three-run lead late in the ball game. We should be able to hold it."
NOTES: Roenicke said before the game that 3B Aramis Ramirez could be activated this week and used as a DH when Milwaukee visits Seattle and Texas. ... The Nationals have taken the season series in consecutive seasons for the first time since the team moved from Montreal for the 2005 season. ... Lucroy's seventh-inning RBI was his 56th as a catcher this season, the most by any at the position in Major League Baseball.

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