The Washington Nationals took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning on another brilliant starting pitching performance, but Tyler Clippard was lit up for three run,s allowing Milwaukee to continue their improbable wild-card run with a 4-2 victory.
Clippard relieved starter Edwin Jackson in the ninth, and trouble began almost immediately. Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki led off the frame with a bunt single to third and was able to reach second on a passed ball by Nats catcher Jesus Flores. Aoki scored on a Ryan Braun single to tie the game, which was followed by an Aramis Ramirez double to left that gave Milwaukee the lead. Ramirez was then able to score on a throwing error by Washington shortstop Ian Desmond. Craig Stammen would come in to finally get Washington out of the jam, but the damage was done as the Nats could muster only a single walk against John Axford in the ninth.
Washington got on the board early. After a Ryan Zimmerman single, Adam LaRoche smashed a Shaun Marcum pitch over the fence in right. It looked like that would be all the help Jackson needed. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo shot in the top of the second, but Jackson would scatter only five more hits while striking out six in eight innings. Milwaukee's only threat before the ninth was in the fourth, when Ryan Braun tried to score from second on a Ramirez single to center, but was thrown out at the plate by Bryce Harper. Likewise, Washington was unable to mount another serious rally against Marcum, who would allow only four runs in six innings pitched.
With Atlanta's loss at Philadelphia, the Nationals will still see their magic number for a division title reduced to seven. The two teams resume the series tomorrow, with Gio Gonzalez on the hill for the Nats against rookie Wily Peralta for Milwaukee.
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