Nats erupt early, cruise to 8-3 victory over Brewers

Nats erupt early, cruise to 8-3 victory over Brewers
July 19, 2014, 10:15 pm
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(Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The saying ‘it was over before it started’ is an obvious exaggeration, but the Nationals came pretty close in their 8-3 win over the Brewers on Saturday night.

Before Milwaukee could even record their second out in the bottom of the first, the Nats were up 5-0 and starter Matt Garza had been chased from the game. Garza left after just a 1/3 of an inning pitched, the quickest an opposing pitcher has ever been knocked out by a Nats team without an injury involved.

The thing is, Garza wasn’t even hit that hard. What did him in were walks and softly hit singles, a barrage of well-placed groundballs aided by a lack of command by the right-hander.

Garza gave up two-RBI singles to both Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos, and another RBI hit to Ian Desmond on an infield single. The combination allowed the Nats to bat around their lineup in the first inning alone and give starter Tanner Roark a commanding lead to work with.

Roark himself was brilliant. Making his 19th start of the season, the 27-year-old went seven innings with one run, six hits, one walk and five strikeouts on 112 pitches. The one run he allowed was earned, but it was aided by a throwing error by Wilson Ramos.

Jerry Blevins would relieve Roark for the eighth inning and allow a two-run home to Ryan Braun. Blevins now holds a 5.13 ERA on the season through 41 appearances.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals wasted little time securing their ‘hitting highlight,’ as Washington exploded out of the gate for their best first inning of the season. The Nationals scored five runs before the Brewers could record their second out of the game, and saw Garza removed from his worst outing of the season.

The rally began with Denard Span leading off with a single. Jayson Werth then hit a bloop double to put both men in scoring position. Adam LaRoche walked to load the bases before Ryan Zimmerman singled home two runs. Ian Desmond would later bring LaRoche home on an infield single before Wilson Ramos singled to center field to score two more.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Roark needed just 12 pitches to get out of the first inning, and by the time he took the mound for the second had a five-run lead to work with. He ended up laboring through several innings to see his pitch count rise, but the end result was another solid outing for the Nationals’ fifth starter.

Roark’s lone earned run came in the second inning. All-Star Jonathan Lucroy doubled with one out, a line drive off the scoreboard in right field. The catcher then stole third base, just his fourth steal of the season. As he was sliding into third, Ramos fired an errant throw that sailed into left field, allowing Lucroy to come home. The Brewers would not see a runner get past second base against Roark the rest of his outing.

KEY STAT: After doubling twice on Saturday night, Werth is now batting .383 (18 of 47) with eight doubles, six home runs and 19 RBI in 13 games this month.

UP NEXT: The Nationals and Brewers will play the final game of both this series and their regular season head-to-head matchups on Sunday. Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.56) will make his first start of the second half while right-hander Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.68) will start for Milwaukee.