GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — With the infield playing back in the ninth inning, Carlos Gomez thought about dropping a bunt to keep two streaks intact.
Not Gomez’s style though, at least in that situation.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ cleanup hitter ended up striking out to finish 0 for 4 in a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night. His streaks of 35 games reaching base and 18 straight with a hit came to an end.
“You know, I’m going to defend (the streaks) like a man. Just be me and enjoy the game. I had the opportunity to drop a bunt but I wasn’t going to do it,” the upbeat Gomez said. “The last at-bat made me feel better for tomorrow.”
Could have used a bright spot on Monday, too. But he flied out to left with two outs and the bases loaded to end the third, the Brewers’ best chance to break through at the plate against starter Gio Gonzalez.
He combined with three relievers to hold Milwaukee’s potent lineup to three hits, and Adam LaRoche hit a three-run homer for the Nationals.
Gonzalez (4-4) walked four and struck out five in six innings. It was the left-hander’s second start following a monthlong stint on the disabled list for left shoulder inflammation.
He outdueled Matt Garza (4-5), who struck out seven in seven innings but allowed LaRoche’s homer to straightaway center in the third.
Gonzalez skirted a couple of jams and left after throwing a season-high 114 pitches. Gonzalez’s changeup confused the Brewers, especially since the left-hander kept the off-speed pitch down in the strike zone.
He missed some spots and got into a couple jams, but otherwise Gonzalez had what amounts to a banner day against one of top-hitting teams in the majors. It spoiled Milwaukee’s homecoming from a 6-1 road swing through the NL West.
“When you don’t hit you look flat, but I think it’s more when you don’t get (runners) on base, that’s how you’re going to look,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
Gonzalez’s night ended by getting Khris Davis to ground into a 6-4-3 double play after walking Aramis Ramirez with one out in the sixth. The bullpen took over from there, with Tyler Clippard closing the game for his first save after regular stopper Rafael Soriano had worked the previous three nights.
“Tonight he threw his changeup for strikes, which was good because his velocity wasn’t as high as it generally is,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said about Gonzalez. “But he’s still working back from being out.”
The Brewers were shut out for the first time since losing 8-0 on May 31 to the Chicago Cubs and starter Jason Hammel.
Garza, the Brewers’ big offseason acquisition, got a confidence boost after escaping a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the second by striking out Danny Espinosa and Jose Lobaton before getting Gonzalez to bounce into a fielder’s choice.
But Garza couldn’t get out of the third unscathed after walking Anthony Rendon and allowing a single to No. 3 hitter Jayson Werth to bring up LaRoche.
Garza pounced off the mound as LaRoche rounded the bases, angrily swinging his glove down into his right hand.
“It was a slider, oh well. I wish I could take it back, but it was the right pitch at the time,” Garza said. “I just didn’t execute it.”
NOTES: Williams was ejected after an argument with home plate umpire Mark Wegner after the top of the second. Espinosa was called out on strikes in that inning on a fastball from Garza along the outside corner. … Nationals OF Bryce Harper (left thumb) began a rehab stint Monday at Class-A Potomac, where he started in left field and played three innings, as planned. Harper finished 1 for 1 with a single, walk and run scored. C Wilson Ramos, also rehabbing at Potomac from a strained right hamstring, went 3 for 4 with a three-run homer. … Brewers RF Ryan Braun started and went 1 for 4 a day after a minor left ankle sprain during Sunday’s 6-5 win at Colorado. Roenicke said closer Francisco Rodriguez was fine after he hurt his left ankle in the same game. … Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman (5-4) opposes Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo (5-4) on Tuesday night.
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