Na­tion­als hit 8 home runs to de­feat Brew­ers

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

(TNS) WASH­ING­TON — If you thought the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers’ dis­heart­en­ing road trip couldn’t get any worse, you were wrong. Very, very wrong.

In an em­bar­rass­ing show- ing that de­volved into a reg­u­lar-sea­son Home Run Derby, the Brew­ers watched help­lessly Thurs­day af­ter­noon as the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als matched or set sev­eral long-ball records, in­clud­ing five homers in one in­ning.

Wash­ing­ton hit eight home runs in the game, two shy of the ma­jor-league record and one short of the Na­tional League mark.

The re­sult was a 15-2 pum­mel­ing that put an aw­ful and un­wanted ex­cla­ma­tion point on a dis­as­trous three-city trip in which the Brew­ers went 2-8. In the process, they went from hav­ing a cushy lead in the Na­tional League Cen­tral over the Chicago Cubs to se­cond place be­fore those teams meet this week­end at Miller Park.

“It’s a game that you just turn the page on,” man­ager Craig Coun­sell said. “It didn’t go well from early on. We turn the page and get a change of venue, which is wel­come.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to the se­ries (against the Cubs). It’s on to the next chal­lenge. It’s a big se­ries for us, cer­tainly, and we’re look­ing for­ward to it. It’s

go­ing to be a good at­mos­phere at home. It’s al­ways crazy when the Cubs come to town.”

In place of in­jured Matt Garza (calf strain), righthander Michael Blazek made his first ma­jor-league start and it couldn’t have gone worse. He al­lowed a two-run home run by Bryce Harper in the first in­ning and four straight homers in

the in the third, in­clud­ing an­other by Harper, af­ter he opened the in­ning by walk­ing Na­tion­als pitcher Max Scherzer. Brian Good­win and Wilmer Difo went deep ahead of Harper and Ryan Zim­mer­man blasted the fourth in a row.

Af­ter fi­nally record­ing an out, Blazek sur­ren­dered his fifth home run of the in­ning to An­thony Ren­don and was re­moved from the game by Coun­sell. Wily Per­alta took over and didn’t fare much bet­ter, al­low­ing two more home

runs — in­clud­ing Zim­mer­man’s se­cond of the game — dur­ing a six- run rally in the fourth.

At that point, it was a 15- 1 game and the only ques­tion was if the Na­tion­als would set an all- time record for home runs. Per­haps the hit­ters were arm weary at that point be­cause they didn’t score again.

Blazek be­came the first pitcher in ma­jor- league his­tory to sur­ren­der five home runs in one in­ning and the first starter to sur­ren­der six in less than three innings. The five homers in one in­ning was a fran­chise record for Wash­ing­ton, go­ing back to the be­gin­ning in Mon­treal.

No team had home­red five times in one in­ning since the Brew­ers did it against Cincin­nati on April 22, 2006.

“I felt like I made some de­cent pitches but they were just locked in on ev­ery­thing,” said Blazek, who turned in four score­less re­lief out­ings af­ter com­ing up from the mi­nors be­fore his first start. “It was tough.

“It sucks. It’s not the way I wanted it to go, ob­vi­ously. It just kept build­ing and build­ing. The next thing you know, it’s a crooked num­ber.”

The home-run bar­rage was pure overkill by the

Na­tion­als’ of­fense with Scherzer on the mound. Pitch­ing on his 33rd birth­day, Wash­ing­ton’s ace went six innings and al­lowed three hits and one run — that com­ing on a home run by Travis Shaw into the third deck in the fourth.

It was in­evitable that a po­si­tion player would take the mound for the Brew­ers and it hap­pened in the eighth when util­ity player Her­nan Perez pitched a score­less in­ning. With that ap­pear­ance on the mound, Perez has played every po­si­tion in the ma­jors ex­cept catcher.

“(Coun­sell) told me in the sev­enth that I would pitch,” said Perez, who be­came the 11th po­si­tion player in Brew­ers his­tory to pitch in a game (Rick Dempsey did it twice). “Ev­ery­body was happy that I pitched. They en­joyed it and I en­joyed it, too. It was fun.

“I threw one changeup and two curve­balls. Ev­ery­thing else was fast­balls. I saw one was 83 (mph).”

Asked how the Brew­ers would re­group and get ready for the Cubs af­ter such a bad trip, Perez said, “We have to for­get about the road trip. We have to turn the page and keep work­ing hard. We’ve been do­ing that all year. It’s not go­ing to be hard for us. We have to keep go­ing.”

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