MILWAUKEE — After Tom Gorzelanny spun around and watched Corey Hart take the fifth pitch of the night for an estimated 430-foot ride off the back of the center-field batters eye, he turned, faced home plate umpire Tim Welke and asked for a new ball.
It was a scene that would repeat itself twice more — including once again to Hart — before Gorzelanny departed, the third multihomer game of the season against him. Doug Slaten would do his best impression of theWashington Nationals starter in surrendering Hart's third homer of the night in the eighth to seal the Nationals' 11-3 blowout by the Milwaukee Brewers.
In a performance that would rank among the most uninspiring Washington has turned in this season, the Nationals watched Milwaukee take advantage of an atmosphere that was allowing the ball to fly out of Miller Park but simply couldn't do the same. Gorzelanny, who failed to make it out of the sixth inning for the third straight start, surrendered three home runs for the second time in his past three outings despite striking out six.
"All year, I make a mistake and it goes over the fence," said the left-hander, who is the team leader in home runs allowed (11) and strikeouts (48). "Bad things happen when I make a mistake."
The offense didn't help, leaving nine on base while going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"There's no team that goes through a season without hitting some periods like this," said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. "You never like to concede to that, but I would say that there's just no team that ever goes through a season without going through some bad times. The key is to get out of those bad times as quickly as possible."
The way the Nationals arrived at the eight-run loss was nothing new: unproductive at-bats with runners on base and an inability to take advantage of the few breaks they did get.
The only difference was that while five of their past eight losses have been by one run, they were simply blown out Monday. Gorzelanny left after giving up six earned runs — five coming off homers — and Drew Storen and Doug Slaten would combine to give up the rest.
In a season that already has seen its share of low points, Monday's loss certainly was certainly one of them.
"I think we're a better team than what we've shown all year, basically," second baseman Danny Espinosa said. "We're a real good team, and we haven't hit on all cylinders."
Added Michael Morse, whose homer in the second was Washington's only offense until the ninth: "We're better than this, and we know it. With the talent we've got, it's frustrating right now. All it takes is a couple good innings and we'll get out of this...When things aren't going your way, you start looking at everything but we've just got to play ourselves out of this."
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