MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lorenzo Cain expected a first-pitch curveball from Stephen Strasburg with the bases loaded and two outs in a scoreless game Tuesday night.
Instead, Strasburg threw Cain a fastball down the middle that he hit down the right-field line to clear the bases, and the Milwaukee Brewers went on to beat the Washington Nationals 6-0 for their fifth straight win.
“He had all his pitches working tonight. It was just filthy tonight,” Cain said. “I’m glad I was able to come through with a big knock there and open the floodgates.”
Nationals star Anthony Rendon had a rough and frustrating return to the lineup after missing 14 games because of a bruised left elbow caused when he was hit by a pitch. His first time up, he was plunked on the left triceps by Adrian Houser, with the pitch barely missing Rendon’s left elbow.
With two on and two outs in the seventh, Rendon was called out on strikes and immediately turned to argue with plate umpire CB Bucknor. Rendon pointed with his bat to a spot in the dirt off the plate before being ejected.
“I just told him he was wrong. Maybe a couple other words,” Rendon said. “I know better in that situation not to get tossed but he definitely got the best of me.”
Washington manager Dave Martinez rushed to intervene but arrived too late.
“I couldn’t come out fast enough,” Martinez said. “He felt like he had an argument there and he’s frustrated. I’m not going to blame him for that. It was unfortunate.”
After meeting with reporters following the game, Rendon taped two printed screen shots showing the pitch in question, one from the mound and other from the umpire’s angle, both of which show the ball to be outside the strike zone.
Bucknor had left Miller Park by the time Rendon finished talking.
Houser, making his second spot start of the season, pitched two innings before giving way to Freddy Peralta (2-1), who didn’t allow a run over five innings. Burch Smith finished it off by shutting out the Nationals for the final two innings.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he employed the pitching strategy to try something out of the ordinary with Peralta, who gave up nine runs in four innings in his last start.
“This was just to give him kind of a different feel going into the game,” Counsell said. “He threw a ton of strikes.”
Strasburg (3-2) struck out 11 before the Brewers struck for six runs in the seventh. Cain’s drive finished Strasburg and reliever Dan Jennings gave up an RBI single to Mike Moustakas. Milwaukee added two more runs in the inning on Ben Gamel’s bases-loaded walk and Jesus Aguilar’s RBI single off Justin Miller.
“Strasburg was really, really good,” Martinez said. “He had everything working today. He just gave up one unfortunate hit.”
The Nationals reinstated Rendon from the 10-day injured list before the game. Washington also recalled right-hander Erick Fedde from Double-A Harrisburg and optioned rookie infielder Carter Kieboom to Triple-A Fresno.
Nationals: Placed LHP Tony Sipp on the 10-day injured list with a strained oblique. “We have to get him right,” manager Dave Martinez said. ... C Yan Gomes, who was hit on the left arm by a pitch in Monday’s game, sat out. ... LF Andrew Stevenson was also out of the lineup. He left in the fourth inning of Monday’s game due to back spasms.
Brewers: Cain returned to the lineup after missing a game with a bruised left hand. He was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game against the Mets. ... RHP Aaron Wilkerson (left foot injury) pitched five scoreless innings in a rehab assignment for Triple-A San Antonio on Tuesday night. He gave up three hits and one walk, while striking out three.
Strasburg hit Aguilar on the left hip with a pitch in the seventh. The ball ricocheted off Aguilar and hit Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki in the ear. Suzuki remained down for a few minutes and was examined by a team trainer but stayed in the game. “He’s got a little cut,” Martinez said. “No damage inside the ear. He’s tough. He didn’t want to come out.”
Nationals: Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 5.33 ERA) will get the start in the three-game series finale on Wednesday afternoon. Hellickson is 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers.
Brewers: Brandon Woodruff (4-1, 4.71) will make his eighth start of the season. Woodruff is 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in three career games (one start) against the Nationals.