- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 18, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — What began as a smattering of applause from the stands rose to a roar of approval accompanying Nationals manager Jim Riggleman’s trip to the mound to remove Jason Marquis before the starting pitcher recorded an out against Milwaukee.

A wild Marquis faced seven Brewers, and all reached base: four singles, two hit batters, one walk. Then it was reliever Miguel Batista’s turn, and he allowed Craig Counsell’s grand slam, part of a 10-run first inning Sunday that sent Milwaukee to an 11-7 victory over Washington.

It was a rousing, 14-batter, 28-minute half-inning for a Brewers club that was shut out by Livan Hernandez on Saturday and hadn’t scored more than eight runs in a game this season.

The poor-pitching Brewers allowed the Nationals to keep chipping away at the big margin. But in the end, Milwaukee managed to avoid a three-game sweep against a team coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons. The Brewers also dropped the Nationals to 6-6 in 2010 after a 24-hour stay above .500 for the first time in more than two years.

For Marquis (0-3, 20.52 ERA), the outing represented the shortest start of his major league career — and this is a guy who’s been starting games since 2001. He’s also the first starter to fail to record an out for the Nationals since the club moved to Washington from Montreal before the 2005 season.

It’s the fifth time in history the Brewers scored at least 10 runs in an inning, but they never before had done it in the first inning.

Even though he was staked to a 10-0 lead, Milwaukee starter Doug Davis couldn’t earn his first win of the season, falling one out shy. He only managed to last 4 2-3 innings, allowing five runs and 11 hits. Six of the hits were singles during Washington’s four-run fifth.

Claudio Vargas (1-0) was credited with the win for two innings of relief. Manny Parra followed and gave up a two-run double in the seventh to pinch-hitter Ian Desmond, who was thrown out at home by center fielder Carlos Gomez on Adam Kennedy’s single to end the inning.

Marquis was charged with seven runs, and it all started with an infield single by Rickie Weeks, followed by a single to center by Counsell. After Ryan Braun’s RBI single, pitching coach Steve McCatty paid a visit to Marquis, which apparently didn’t help matters, because the next batter, Prince Fielder, was hit by a pitch, filling the bases.

Marquis forced in a run by walking Casey McGehee on four pitches — nearly hitting him with the fourth — and sent another runner home by hitting Jim Edmonds on the left foot. Sarcastic clapping greeted a second-pitch strike to Gregg Zaun, who then lined a run-scoring single to left.

That was Marquis’ 28th pitch of the afternoon — 15 balls, 13 strikes — and his last. Fans in the announced crowd of 18,789 were thrilled to see Riggleman emerge to remove the righty, who signed a $15 million, two-year contract as a free agent this offseason.

Those spectators cheered mightily when Batista’s first pitch to Gomez resulted in a swinging strike. But then Gomez sent a dribbler to the left side of the infield, and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman charged and tried to cut it off. The ball ticked off his glove, everyone was safe, and it was ruled a hit.

That brought up Davis, who dug into the batter’s box before setting foot on the pitching rubber, and he produced a sacrifice fly that accounted for the game’s first out — and also made it 6-0. After Weeks walked to reload the bases, Counsell drove a 1-0 pitch into the home bullpen beyond right field for his first homer.

Batista then struck out Braun and, after walking Fielder, got McGehee — the 14th batter of the inning — to ground out to second, drawing more full-throated cheering.

NOTES: McGehee had three hits. So did Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez. … Weeks reached base four times with a single, double, walk and hit-by-pitch. … Nationals OF Willie Harris grabbed the microphone and belted out “God Bless America” during batting practice, much to the amusement of teammates. … The Brewers have used 12 lineups in 12 games this season. … Nationals CF Nyjer Morgan was out of the starting lineup for the first time, replaced by Willy Taveras. “I’m not going to play (Morgan) 162 games,” Riggleman said.

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