Abad Stumbles in Relief as Nats Lose to Brewers
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MILWAUKEE — Fernando Abad entered a tight game and in a short span of three batters everything went downhill for the Washington Nationals.
Jeff Bianchi lofted a single off Abad that dropped just behind Washington’s drawn-in infield, breaking a tie and capping a five-run sixth inning in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 8-5 win over the Nationals on Sunday.
“They just nicked him to death,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said of Abad’s day.
The left-hander was called upon to hold a 4-2 lead with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, but gave up a pair of improbable hits and a questionable double.
Abad was greeted by pinch-hitter Khris Davis, who hit a high chopper in front of the plate that bounced over Ryan Zimmerman’s head for a single to make it 4-3. Juan Francisco then hit a hard liner that bounced just in front of first base and was ruled fair by umpire David Rackley for a double, tying the score.
First baseman Adam LaRoche and Johnson questioned Rackley whether the ball was foul, but the call stood.
“I told him what I thought and then asked if he wants to ask for help,” LaRoche said. “Most of the time on that one, if they feel like they had good view of it, they won’t. After that, nothing you can do.”
Johnson brought the infield in to attempt to stop the go-ahead run from scoring on a groundball, but Bianchi hit a bloop that landed near second base for a single. Davis scored easily from third and Francisco made a great slide to beat the throw from Anthony Rendon, giving Milwaukee the lead for good at 6-4.
“There was a lot of tough breaks that inning,” Washington starter Taylor Jordan said. “It’s not like they were crushing the ball or anything. Just a couple tough breaks.”
It was only the fifth time in 27 relief appearances that Abad had been scored upon, and the first time this year he had given up more than a single run. His ERA rose from 1.48 to 2.16.
John Axford (5-4) allowed a home run to Adam LaRoche in the top of the sixth, but nothing else and earned the win. Jim Henderson pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 18 chances.
Anthony Rendon led off the seventh with a homer off Mike Gonzalez, hit fifth of the year, but Washington couldn’t score the rest of the way.
Logan Schafer scored from a third on a groundout by Jonathan Lucroy to make it 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh.
Bianchi executed a perfect squeeze bunt in the eighth that scored Davis from third to give Milwaukee an 8-5 lead.
Jordan allowed four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two in 5 1/3 innings.
Notes: LaRoche’s homer was his second in two games and 16th this year. … Roenicke said 3B Ramirez should return sometime during the team’s road trip, which begins Monday night at San Francisco. … Washington RHP Ross Ohlendorf was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday, retroactive to Thursday, due to right shoulder inflammation. LHP Xavier Cedeno was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to take his spot on the roster.
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