Mon. Final: Nationals 14, Brewers 6
By Todd Welter
Next game: Tuesday, July 28 vs. Washington
It might not be rock bottom but it might be a sign that the Brewers are getting close to hitting it.
Josh Willingham hit two grand slams and drove in eight runs as the lowly Washington Nationals routed the Brewers 14-6 at Miller Park. Not exactly the start the Brewers were hoping to get off to when the worst team in baseball came into town for a four-game set.
One thing is for sure, the Brewers are reeling as they are now at 49-50 on the year and are below .500 for the first time since Apr. 27. The Crew has gone 7-15 this month, 19-30 since June 1 and have dropped all the way to fourth in the NL Central. The laundry list of struggles also include dropping seven of their last 11 games, six of their last eight home games and have not won back-to-back games since the end of June which was the last time Milwaukee won a series.
"Turning things it around is going to be a tough job," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "The fans are getting a little restless and I don't blame them. We haven't been playing well."
With the Nationals (31-68) in town and then a weekend series in San Diego against the Padres-- currently in last place in the NL West -- this is the week where the Brewers are supposed to get back on track before a tough six-game road stretch against the Dodgers and the Astros.
Jeff Suppan's fifth-inning meltdown put a "failure to launch" on those plans at least for one night. Suppan was spotted an early 2-0 lead but was lit up for six runs in the fifth.
The inning started off with a walk to Alberto Gonzalez and Nyjer Morgan drove him in with a single. Things got rough when Suppan loaded up the bases by hitting Ryan Zimmerman with a pitch and it was all down hill from there when he issued a bases-loaded walk to Adam Dunn.
The wheels completely came off when Willingham hit a two-out grand slam to left on the first pitch he saw from Suppan. That drew the ire of the Miller Park faithful.
"He had a good day," Suppan thought about Willingham's historic night. "He did his job and I didn't do mine."
The crowd really got angry when Suppan failed to hold the Nationals to a run lead. The Brewers rallied back in the bottom of the fifth with three runs on Felipe Lopez's infield-RBI single and Ryan Braun's two-run homer to pull to within a run. Braun went 3-for-4 along with a double, a base-hit and two runs.
The hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed when Suppan gave up a two-RBI double to Cristian Guzman in the sixth. The misery did not end when Suppan finally exited the game that inning-- to a very loud chorus of boos. No, things got worse...much worse.
Reliever Mitch Stetter gave up a RBI-double to Dunn and walked Nick Johnson to load the bases. Stetter was pulled for Mike DiFelice to face Willingham who smacked the second pitch he saw over the left-field fence for his second grand slam of the game.
Willingham is just the 13th player in Major League history to hit two grand slams in the same game.
"Willingham, eight-RBI's pretty much summed it up," Macha said.
Home runs have been destroying the Brewers over the last four games. During that stretch, Brewers pitchers have given up 33 runs--21 of which have come courtesy of nine home runs.
Ryan Zimmerman added another run in the eighth with his 18th home run of the season.
"A lot of offense from them, not much pitching from us," Macha described.
Suppan (5-8) took the loss for being the worst of the Brewers' pitchers who stepped on the mound. He was charged for 10 runs on 10 hits, walked four and struck out four. Suppan did get through the first four innings allowing no runs despite allowing a hitter on base during those innings.
"You are going to get into some jams so the beginning part of the game, I was able to make pitches to get out of them and the last two I wasn't able to," Suppan felt.
"There were a couple situations where I went with a pitch where I thought it was the right pitch and it wasn't."
Making this loss even more frustrating was the Brewers' bats actually got to Nationals starter Craig Stammen. He was knocked around for five runs on nine hits in 4.2-innings of work.
The Brewers picked up another run in seventh on Jody Gerut's pinch-hit RBI-double off reliever Jason Bergmann. Bergmann (1-1) ended up with the win.