Brewers send Nationals to 7th straight loss with 6-5 win
MILWAUKEE (AP) Matt Garza's first win of the season was a tough one.
Garza battled through six innings, and the Milwaukee Brewers handed Washington its season-high seventh straight loss with a 6-5 victory over the Nationals on Saturday.
''My breaking stuff wasn't very consistent today but I was able to grind through some innings,'' said Garza, who missed the first two months of the season with a back injury. ''I pitched through a lot of traffic.''
Garza (1-0) got some early help when Chris Carter connected for a three-run homer with two out in the first. Jonathan Villar had three hits for Milwaukee, including an RBI single in the second.
''You never want to give up a lead your teammates give you but I sure tried hard to do it today,'' Garza said.
The 32-year-old right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits after allowing one run over 10 innings in his first two starts of the year.
Manager Craig Counsell said Garza ''scuffled'' with his off-speed pitches more than he had in his first two starts.
''But he competed really well,'' Counsel said. ''Getting us through that sixth inning was really big.''
Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez (3-7) pitched a season-low three innings in his sixth consecutive loss. He was charged with six runs and six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
''You worry about his confidence,'' manager Dusty Baker said.
It got worse for the Nationals after the game when Baker announced ace Stephen Strasburg would be replaced by right-hander Tanner Roark for the series finale on Sunday.
Strasburg, who is 10-0 with a 2.90 ERA, felt pain in his back while throwing before Saturday's loss. He also missed his last scheduled start with an upper back strain.
Daniel Murphy had three hits for Washington, which trailed 6-1 after three. Danny Espinosa drove in two runs with a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly got the Nationals within one in the seventh, but Murphy was stranded at third when Anthony Rendon grounded out to end the inning.
''We battled, but it's time for us to win some wars now,'' Baker said. ''We flirted with the fence all day, but came up short.''
Jeremy Jeffress worked the ninth for his 21st save in 22 opportunities.
Milwaukee signed first-round draft pick Corey Ray, who took part in batting practice at Miller Park.
''I look up and see Chris Carter hitting balls out of the stadium and I've got to follow that,'' Ray said. ''I'm like, come on.''
Ray, who received a signing bonus of $4,125,000, is assigned to Class A Brevard County of the Florida State League.
NEGRO LEAUGES TRIBUTE
The Brewers wore the uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears in their 11th annual Negro Leagues tribute game. The Bears played one season (1923) in the league. The Nationals donned the uniforms of the Homestead Grays.
THAT WAS MINE
As Carter and second baseman Scooter Gennett chased a foul ball down the right-field line in the sixth, a fan wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and a straw hat reached over a railing and snagged the ball in his glove.
Nationals: Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who is on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session. ''He said his control wasn't where it was, but that's not what we were worried about,'' Baker said. ''The purpose of the session was to see how he felt. He came in full of life.''
Brewers: Ryan Braun was struck solidly on the left foot by a pitch from Gonzalez in the third. After hobbling to first base, he remained in the game.
Nationals: RHP Roark (6-5, 3.18 ERA) last pitched on Tuesday at the Dodgers, allowing three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings in a 3-2 loss.
Brewers: Jimmy Nelson (5-6, 3.80 ERA) is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two career starts versus Washington, both coming last season. Milwaukee is winless in Nelson's last four starts.