Preston parks one in Nationals' loss

Preston parks one in Nationals' loss

MILWAUKEE -- After the Nationals lost five of their last seven games before the All-Star break, manager Frank Robinson was concerned about the team's offense. The Nationals averaged 3.14 runs per game during that span, and it reminded Robinson how lethargic the team looked early in the season.

Robinson was hoping the All-Star break would energize the offense, but it didn't on Thursday afternoon as the Nationals lost to the Brewers, 4-2, in front of 30,611 at Miller Park.

Brewers left-hander Doug Davis pitched seven solid innings and gave up two runs on four hits. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts and walked two batters. Matt Wise and Derrick Turnbow shut out the Nationals the rest of way without giving up a run.

"The lack of hitting has been going on for about a week," Robinson said. "We are not doing anything offensively. Our bats are missing in action to tell you the truth. And when we get a few opportunities, we are not cashing in.

"I was aware of the struggles before the break, but I felt that maybe we were a little tired -- looking forward to the break. Hopefully, we would comeback with a lot of energy and pick up where we left off when we were playing good baseball. We are looking like we did going into the break."

Second baseman Jose Vidro is baffled as to why the Nationals continue to be overmatched by the likes of Davis and Phillies right-hander Corey Lidle, pitchers who are known to change speeds rather throw blazing fastballs.

"We are just a very aggressive club that thinks about the hard-throwing fastball," Vidro said. "[Pitchers who change speeds] have our number. But we have to make adjustments."

It was another no-decision for Nationals right-hander John Patterson, who pitched six solid innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He struck out a career-high nine batters and walked one. Patterson now has 11 no-decisions, and the last time he won a game was on June 10 against the Mariners.

Patterson admitted that it was getting frustrating not to pick up victories.

"This game is judged by wins and I have five decisions in 16 starts. That can wear on you a little," Patterson said. "I'm throwing the ball good. Coming into this season, my plan was to do exactly what I'm doing right now. I'm succeeding as far as that goes."

Patterson may have had good numbers on Thursday, but Robinson dwelled on the fact that Patterson threw too many pitches in six innings. In total, Patterson threw 115 pitches, including 99 after five innings.

It's not just Patterson that is throwing a high number of pitches -- the entire starting staff is," Robinson said. "You look up and we are in the fifth inning and they are close to 100 pitches. What you can expect from them is that they can pitch five or six innings."

Patterson acknowledged that the hitters are having too many three-ball counts.

"I need to cut down on that a little bit and try to go into the eighth inning," Patterson said.

Patterson was given a 1-0 lead in the second inning, when Preston Wilson, making his Nationals debut, took Doug Davis' 3-1 pitch and hit the ball over the left-field wall for his first home run in a Nationals uniform.

"The Nationals already know that I can hit a home run. Hopefully, I can fit in to what they are trying to do here on a daily basis," Wilson said.

But the Brewers tied things up in the bottom of the inning off Patterson as Damian Miller hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Bill Hall.

Vidro untied it for the Nationals in the top of the third inning against Davis. With runners on second and third and one out, Vidro grounded out to Hall at shortstop, but Brad Wilkerson scored on the play.

But Patterson couldn't hold on to the lead as Jenkins took an inside fastball and homered over the right-field wall to tie the score at 2 in the sixth.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with reliever Gary Majewski on the mound, the Brewers had runners on first and second and one out when Miller broke a 2-2 tie with a double to left-center field to drive in Jenkins and Russell Branyan.

"I got behind in the count. I had to throw the ball over the plate. I had him 3-2 and I threw the sinker that didn't move," Majewski said. "Things haven't been going my way as of late. I just have to work harder, keep the ball down and keep doing what I can."

The winning pitcher was Wise, while Majewski took the loss. Turnbow picked up his 18th save of the season.

The Nationals have lost three consecutive games and dropped their record to 52-37. The last time the Nationals lost that many games in a row was from May 23-28, when they lost five in a row.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.