Nationals look sluggish again in 5-2 loss to Brewers

Dusty Baker admitted, after the fact, that his Nationals didn’t exactly put forth their best effort Monday during the club’s annual Independence Day morning game.

“Everybody was dragging yesterday with that 11:05 game,” the veteran manager said. “I just didn’t want to say it.”

Whatever it was that plagued the Nationals during that uninspired loss to the Brewers sure seemed to still be dogging them tonight during a repeat performance.

A tepid offensive attack against right-hander Zach Davies, combined with home runs surrendered by Gio Gonzalez and Blake Treinen, left the Nats to stew over a 5-2 loss to the Brewers that left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths hours after four members of the roster learned they had been named All-Stars.

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Hernan Perez and Aaron Hill supplied the power for Milwaukee, each clubbing two-run homers in back-to-back innings to break the game open. Perez sent a 1-0 fastball from Gonzalez over the fence in right-center in the top of the sixth. Hill duplicated the feat with a homer to left off a 1-0 pitch from Treinen in the visiting half of the seventh.

A Nationals lineup that had looked quite potent at week’s end remained deathly quiet for a second straight day against the Brewers. After getting shut out on two hits by Junior Guerra and a pair of relievers during Monday’s early game, the Nats were held in check by Davies, who allowed a second-inning run but then settled in to author a quality start.

Anthony Rendon supplied the Nationals’ lone early run with a two-out single to left. Washington didn’t seriously threaten again until the seventh, when it loaded the bases with two outs for Bryce Harper. The reigning league MVP, named an All-Star starter earlier in the evening, struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner from left-hander Will Smith.

Even the Nationals’ defense, statistically among the best in baseball, had a ragged night. Harper missed a couple of potential catches in right field early. Jayson Werth missed the cutoff man on a throw to the plate, allowing the trailing runner to advance. Ryan Zimmerman was charged with an error when he couldn’t scoop a low throw across the diamond from Danny Espinosa.

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