There were no bullpen implosions, no late inning heroics. Not much of anything particularly dramatic happened. No, the Washington Nationals 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers today was simply the better team playing better, led by their best player and a former Cy Young winning pitcher. Who, adding insult to injury, also hit a home run.
The loss drops the Nationals record to 21-28. It's their fifth straight loss and concludes a road trip where they lost seven out of eight, the lone win being the 17-5 laugher in Baltimore Friday night. Washington has lost 10 of their last 13 games to fall 8 1/2 games back of the division lead before Memorial Day.
All four Nats pitchers either gave up a run or allowed a hit to drive in a run. Three of the four Nats runs came on one swing. When they managed to manufacture a run to cut the lead in the eighth, the Brewers got it right back in the bottom of the inning.
At least the Nats proficiency with runners in scoring position will rise a little bit, as they went 1-for-3 in such situations today, Michael Morse's three-run home run in the fourth inning that tied the game up...for one inning.
Nationals starter Jason Marquis wasn't sharp, but he battled. He gave up four earned runs on five hits and four walks, striking out one in six innings. With that many base runners in that period, Marquis was fortunate to hold the Brewers to four runs to keep his team in the game.
But as was the case in all three games in Milwaukee, the Brewers scored multiple runs in the first, putting the Nats behind the eight-ball once again. Marquis got the leadoff man, but then walked Corey Hart, gave up a single to Ryan Braun, and a two-run double to Prince Fielder. Just like that, the Nats found themselves with an uphill battle.
The killer might have come in the fifth, though, as Marquis' opposite number, former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, pulled Marquis' 89-MPH sinker that didn't sink down the left field line for a solo home run that gave the Brewers a lead they would never relinquish.
Greinke, making his fourth start of the season following a stint on the D.L. due to a pulled muscle in his side he sustained while playing basketball during spring training, only made the one mistake, hanging a curveball to Morse that he crushed for his third home run in as many days. Other than that, Greinke mowed through the Nats batting order, striking out 10 in seven innings, allowing just five hits and a walk.
In the seventh, Milwaukee picked up an insurance run courtesy of Prince Fielder's single off Sean Burnett -- Burnett's only batter of the game.
The Nats manufactured a run in the eighth when Roger Bernadina reached on an error, took third on a single by Jayson Werth, and scored on a Laynce Nix sacrifice fly. But Washington couldn't benefit from the fortune, giving the run right back in the bottom of the inning, as Todd Coffey gave up a run-scoring double to .232-hitting pinch-hitter Yunesky Betancourt.
If there ever was a team that needed to get off the road and get some home cooking, this team was it. Today's loss drops their road record to 10-19, one of the worst road records in the National League. They've happened to play more games on the road than anyone in the N.L. thus far as well, but the schedule doesn't really get any friendlier any time soon. After a six-game homestand with San Diego and Philadelphia, they head right back out on a 10-game west coast trip to Arizona, San Francisco and San Diego.
THE GOOD: Michael Morse's power stroke. He's homered in three straight with eight driven in, and in his last ten games is hitting over .400.
THE BAD: Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa went 0-for-8 combined.
THE UGLY: Cole Kimball walked two, one of which scored when Sean Burnett couldn't do his job and get the lefty Fielder, in the eighth. The young power pitchers also struck out two, but he's got as many walks as strikeouts in his six appearances so far. Walks are the absolute bane of late relievers, and he needs to drastically reduce them to keep his spot in the pen.
THE STATS: Six hits, one walk, 12 strikeouts. 1-for-3 with RISP, four LOB, no GIDP. E: Hairston (6)
NEXT GAME: The Nats are off until Friday, when they host the San Diego Padres at 7:05 at Nats Park. John Lannan (2-5, 5.03) faces Clayton Richard (2-5, 4.85).