The Washington Times - May 24, 2011, 11:08AM

MILWAUKEE — In his first six starts of the season, Tom Gorzelanny he was averaging at least 6 2/3 innings, opponents were hitting just .163 off him and he had a 2.87 ERA. In the last three he’s failed to make it past the sixth inning, he has a 7.63 ERA and opponents are hitting .358 off him with a .419 average on balls in play.

There’s a clear discrepancy there. The one constant throughout all nine starts by the left-hander this year? He strikes a lot of guys out and he has a penchant to give up a homer or two… or three.

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But while the strikeout numbers have remained steady — an indication of how good his stuff is working and how well he’s locating, his home run numbers have skyrocketed. In the last three games alone Gorzelanny’s allowed six homers. Monday night was already his third multi-homer game of the season and the second three-homer game of the year.

When he makes a mistake, he pays for it big time.

“I make a mistake and it goes over the fence,” he said Monday night. “Bad things happen when I make a mistake.”

The pitches that Gorzelanny is getting tagged on aren’t good pitches. He admits that much. They are balls that are coming right down the middle, “thigh high,” as he put it. For example, all three home runs he gave up on Monday were pitches like that. Corey Hart hit the first one, Prince Fielder destroyed the second one and Hart came back for more on the third Gorzelanny allowed.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to what Gorzelanny can do to prevent this from happening. A good first step would be never pitching against Milwaukee again (The Brewers have hit 15 homers off Gorzelanny in his career, the most of any opponent and Corey Hart is the individual leader in homers off the left-hander with four), but short of that, he simply has to work on limiting his mistakes. Gorzelanny has five three-homer games to his name, two of them have come this season and it’s only May.

“I give up a ton every game,” a frustrated Gorzelanny said Monday night. “I haven’t done this before, so hopefully things change, but I’ve just got to make sure I execute each time out and pitch the way I know how.”

When he’s not serving one up right down the middle, Gorzelanny’s been very effective. He leads the Nationals with 48 strikeouts and is in the top 50 in the major leagues in that category. It wasn’t much consolation to Gorzelanny Monday. “Not when you give up six runs,” he said.

“It’s an odd thing,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “Tom strikes people out which, when you strike people out, it’s an indication of your stuff is that good and again tonight he was striking people out. Certainly the long ball has gotten him lately, but I like to look at the positive of his stuff is obviously there.”