“I don’t have any answers,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “Just kind of nothing. Can’t get nothing going. It’s putting me in the loony bin.”
Lohse and Ross Detwiler squared off in a pitching rematch of Game 4 of last year’s National League Division Series, and this time Lohse won. He gave up four hits and one walk and struck out seven. Detwiler, meanwhile, allowed four runs in six innings, two of them scoring after Harper dropped a line drive.
Once Lohse exited, the Nationals threatened. Ryan Zimmerman singled and Ian Desmond drew a two-out walk in the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez to bring Rendon to the plate as the tying run. The crowd rose as Rendon drilled a deep flyball to center field, but he knew right away he had not hit it far enough. The drive died on the warning track, and roars turned to groans.
“It’d be nice if we could score 13 runs a game,” said Rendon, a rookie batting .313. “But that’s just not how baseball is.”
As Zimmerman and Desmond walked off the field, the Nationals’ deficit in the National League East grew to 71
2 games. The Atlanta Braves lost to the Miami Marlins, which pushed their lead down to seven, sparing the Nationals from matching their largest gap of the season.
The Nationals will manage at best a split of their four-game series against the Brewers, who had gone 18-37 during the two months before they arrived Monday at Nationals Park. Washington will hand the ball on the Fourth of July to 24-year-old Taylor Jordan, who will make the second start of his career with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch.
Tuesday night, the Nationals wasted Stephen Strasburg’s seven-inning masterpiece. Wednesday night, they offered Detwiler no help as he carried a shutout into the fifth inning. Detwiler, like Strasburg before him, used his curveball with a higher frequency than usual, striking out three Brewers in the second inning, all on curves.
In the fifth, though, Detwiler stumbled. His fastball started to rise, and the Brewers started to belt it. Norichika Aoki ripped a two-run single to center, the Brewers’ third hit of the inning giving them a 2-0 lead.
“When it was time to make a pitch, I didn’t,” Detwiler said. “I kind of threw the ball straight down the middle.”