Brewers avoid sweep thanks to Gennett's slam
No Ryan Braun? No Jonathan Lucroy? No Aramis Ramirez?
With most of their big guns getting the day off following the 16-inning marathon that had ended roughly 12 hours earlier, the Milwaukee Brewers got all the offense they needed from two of their talented youngsters Wednesday at Miller Park.
Scooter Gennett drove in five runs with a grand slam and a single and Khris Davis drove in three more runs with a homer and a two-run single to power the Brewers past the Washington Nationals, 9-2.
“That's why I tell you guys I can't figure it out,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “You don't know what's going to happen. Scooter, huge at-bat. Before that, those were all really good at-bats to load the bases up. Happy to see Khris Davis with some good at-bats today. Lyle (Overbay) had some good at-bats.
“We did a nice job offensively.”
Making the afternoon even sweeter, Marco Estrada delivered a strong start needed by both the Brewers and by Estrada, himself, as as he tries to tighten his hold on his spot in the rotation that had grown tenuous.
The right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, limiting Washington to just two hits, two runs (earned) and four walks to go along with four strikeouts.
Milwaukee remained one of only two teams in the major leagues that has not been swept this season. The other is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Entering the evening, the Brewers' 48 victories were the most in the major leagues.
Also important was the fact Estrada (7-4) didn't allow a homer for just the second time this season and the first time since April 15. He had surrendered a major-league-high 24.
“You can't continually go out there and give up runs all the time,” Roenicke said. “If you see a guy going in the wrong direction, it's huge for us, looking at a guy who hasn't pitched the way we thought he was going to. It's important for him to get back in that mode that we know he can do.”
Washington took an early 1-0 lead against Estrada in the second on a Nate McLouth groundout that drove in Adam LaRoche, who had walked to lead off the inning.
The Brewers got that run back and three more in the bottom of the inning against Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.
Mark Reynolds led off with a single and he went to third with one out on a double by Elian Herrera. Martin Maldonado then drew a walk to load the bases. After Estrada struck out, Gennett turned around a 95-mph fastball from Strasburg and sent it out to right-center for his first grand slam.
With one swing of the bat, Gennett had doubled the number of runs the Brewers had managed in the previous 26 innings against the Nationals.
“I always try to be on time for the fastball,” Gennett said. “He got me my first at-bat pretty much on the same pitch, and I was able to make the adjustment. That definitely shifted momentum. I'm just happy to contribute.
“Obviously, first grand slam for me, so it's a special thing.”
Staked to that lead, Estrada settled in and allowed just one run the rest of the way, on an Ian Desmond double in the fourth.
Davis crushed a 430-foot homer to left-center on the first pitch he saw from Strasburg in the bottom of the fourth. Then he delivered a two-out, two-RBI single to right in the fifth to make it 7-2.
That also spelled the end for Strasburg, who dropped to 6-6 after allowing eight hits, seven runs (earned) and three walks against two strikeouts as his earned-run average jumped by nearly half a run.
Estrada and Brandon Kintzler combined on a scoreless sixth, with Estrada departing to a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,049.
“It's been a tough month and a half or whatever it's been,” Estrada said, “but to come out of the game and see the fans are still behind me—not just me, but the way the game was going, I'm sure everyone was really excited about it. But to get some cheers in that game, it made me feel really good.”
Gennett drove in a run with a single in the sixth, and Carlos Gomez drove in Gennett later that inning with a swinging bunt to make it 9-2.
Alfredo Figaro, recalled from Class AAA Nashville earlier in the day, pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game.
Gomez and Desmond exchanged words near second base at the end of the eighth inning, leading to the benches clearing, but nothing came of the confrontation. Gomez made a hard but clean slide into second base to try and break up a double play after being hit by a pitch.
“He liked my shoes,” Gomez said. “I told him to go to NikeID.com and get some.”
The Brewers open a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies beginning tonight with a renewed sense of confidence having put together a complete game with a lineup that perhaps wasn't as makeshift as some believed.
“After last night's game, that was a tough loss, and it was nice to bounce back and get a win,” Gennett said.
“We still had a good lineup out there, but when you think about the guys we didn't have in the lineup, you don't really expect to score however many runs we scored today. It's nice. Everybody stepped up and contributed in some way.”