WASHINGTON -- Kyle Lohse tossed eight sharp innings on short rest and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 on Wednesday, shutting down Bryce Harper and Co. for the second night in a row.
Lohse (4-6) allowed one run and four hits, and had a season-high seven strikeouts against the eager-swinging Nationals, who barely avoided back-to-back shutouts and fell back to .500. Harper, in his third game back from a knee injury, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and dropped a ball in left field for the second consecutive game.
Lohse pitched on two days' rest after his last start, Sunday at Pittsburgh, was cut short at 1 2-3 innings because of a 2-hour, 20-minute rain delay. Nevertheless, his impressive June (2-0, 2.34 ERA) carried into July.
Ross Detwiler (2-7), yet another Nationals pitcher longing for run support, was charged with four runs and eight hits in six innings, although two runs were unearned because of Harper's error leading off the sixth. In Detwiler's seven losses, the Nationals have scored a combined three runs while he's been in the game.
The Brewers scored a pair in the fifth after a double by Sean Halton and a clinical bunt single by Logan Schafer. After a sacrifice bunt, both were singled home by Norichika Aoki with the infield in.
In the sixth, Harper dropped a line drive off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. The error proved costly when Schafer drove a two-run triple into right-centre with two out.
Harper, converted from catcher after the Nationals drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010, also misplayed a fly ball on the warning track in Milwaukee's four-run eighth inning in Tuesday's 4-0 win. That play was ruled a hit, although Harper said he simply dropped the ball.
At the plate, Harper made solid contact twice, but centre fielder Carlos Gomez chased the first one down on the warning track and had to sprint and stretch to snag the second one in left-centre. Harper is 1 for 12 since his return from the disabled list, and the one hit was an electrifying first-inning homer in the first game that helped spur a 10-5 win.
The Nationals have since reverted to their collective season-long slump at the plate, although many of their outs Wednesday were hard-hit line drives that went straight to fielders. They averted the shutout when Anthony Rendon homered in the seventh.
Rendon also came up to the plate as the potential tying run with two out and two on in the ninth, but he flew out to deep centre field against Francisco Rodriguez, who picked up his seventh save.
The Brewers have won two straight after losing six in a row. They welcomed shortstop Jean Segura and Gomez back to the lineup after both sat out Tuesday's game with nagging injuries. Gomez had plenty of work, making eight putouts in centre field.
NOTES: The game's most embarrassing gaffe was committed by Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks, who ran almost all the way from first to third on a flyout to deep centre with one out. Weeks was easily doubled off base, negating a run that would have scored from third on a sacrifice fly. It would have been Halton's first major league RBI. ... Detwiler made the start despite feeling stiffness in his lower back after his previous outing. He is 0-3 since returning from the disabled list following a back strain last month. ... The game started at 6:05 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, because the teams have an 11:05 a.m. start on July 4. ... Nationals RHP Dan Haren, on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, threw a simulated game and appears set to return to the rotation July 9. ... Washington C Wilson Ramos (left hamstring) will return from the DL and start Thursday, barring a setback following his final rehab game Wednesday night.