By Sam Bush
Stephen Strasburg threw Lorenzo Cain a fastball down the middle that he hit down the right-field line to clear the bases, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Nationals 6-0.
“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.”