MILWAUKEE - The Nationals stayed close as long as they could Monday night, but a bases-loaded triple by Christian Yelich helped the Brewers put the game away in the sixth, and they went on to win 6-1 in the series opener at Miller Park.
The Nats fell below .500 again at 49-50 and now trail both the Phillies and Braves by six games in the National League East.
Nats starter Gio Gonzalez (6-7) tied a season high by walking five, but wiggled out of jams all night until the sixth.
Leading 3-1, the Brewers loaded the bases with two outs on a walk to Erik Kratz, a single by pinch-hitter Nate Orf and another walk to pinch-hitter Brett Phillips.
Sammy SolÃs relieved Gonzalez. He surrendered a bouncing grounder by Yelich down the first base line that looked like a playable ball. But Ryan Zimmerman was not able handle the chopper and it got past him down the line into the right field corner. Three runs came into score.
"Should've made the play," Zimmerman said. "Kind of got in between. I was maybe going to take a step back and get it on the big hop and realized that might not be the best and still should've made the play. Not a routine play, but for me a play I should make. Sammy made a good pitch when he needed to and unfortunately kind of snuck by me."
Manager Davey Martinez was surprised Zimmerman didn't come up with the hotshot grounder.
"He typically makes that play," said Martinez. "It's a ground ball. SolÃs came in and did his job, got a ground ball. Like you said, nine out of 10 times that's an out. Just tough break."
Gonzalez finished 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits with five walks and five strikeouts. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes. The five walks hurt Gonzalez, especially those two in the sixth that both came around to score.
"Just can't walk people," Gonzalez said. "Just got to go out there and be more aggressive. The balls I did put in play, they just found holes. That's all it was. I executed some pitches I wanted. Results that I wanted. Ended up being a different result."
The Nats took the lead early 1-0 on a line drive solo homer by Daniel Murphy. But after that, they managed only three more hits, all coming after the fifth.
It was a particular tough night for shortstop Trea Turner, who went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
The first strikeout came in the second and was a called third strike from home plate umpire Nic Lentz. The pitch appeared to be low in the zone.
Turner argued with Lentz for a moment. Then hitting coach Kevin Long argued with Lentz from the steps of the dugout, and Lentz ejected Long from the game.
In Turner's second at-bat, he bunted the ball back to the Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin fielded the bunt and tagged Turner out. Turner had actually backed out of the box after the bunt and seemed a bit startled. He said frustration from his first at-bat might have played a part in his inability to complete the bunt the second time up.
"I think kind of self-defense," Turner said of his bunt attempt. "I thought I was going to be hit by it and end up bunting it fair somehow. For me, by the time I got my feet underneath me from backing away, I felt like the pitcher was already standing right there. Probably should've run to first ..."
Martinez did not like seeing Turner not try to run to first base on the play.
"I actually thought the ball hit him," Martinez said. "I thought it hit him in the hand or something. I was trying to scream inside to see what they saw and they said he just bunted the ball. So I was like, why would he walk up the field?"
Martinez said Turner is likely to be benched for Tuesday's game because of that play.
"In that moment, we are trying to win a ball game," Martinez said. "It's a good chance he won't play tomorrow.
"That's something where I'll talk to him. We're in the midst of trying to win a ballgame. It's close. You just got to go let them play. But it will be a discussion."
Chacin got stronger as the night progressed. He struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with no walks. He struck out six Nats after the second inning.
The Nats were held without a hit in the third, fourth and fifth frames. In the third, the only baserunner was courtesy of Brewers shortstop Tyler Saladino's second error of the night, an errant throw that drew first baseman Ryan Braun off the bag and allowed Anthony Rendon to reach. But Chacin struck out Bryce Harper and Zimmerman grounded out to end the inning.
"He's a tough at-bat," Turner said of facing Chacin. He's got a really good breaking ball. He'll throw it over, over and over. That's what makes him good. Makes his fastball play up a little bit too. I know to lefties he threw some changeups too. Kept us off balance and he pitched a good game. Tough pitcher."