Instant analysis: Brewers 6, Nats 2

Instant analysis: Brewers 6, Nats 2
September 23, 2012, 9:30 pm
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Game in a nutshell: Forced to use Chien-Ming Wang in a spot start due to a doubleheader earlier in the week, the Nationals couldn't complain about the performance turned in by the oft-injured right-hander, who at least gave them a chance to win. In fact, the game was tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh before everything fell apart via a flurry of weak hits, intentional walks and flyballs lost in the sun. Thus a ragged ballgame turned into a ragged loss for the Nationals, who have now seen their lead in the NL East drop to 4 12 games. They've still got 10 games to play; the Braves only have nine to play. The magic number to clinch the division remains at 6.

Hitting lowlight: The Nationals had some great scoring opportunities, especially early on. But they took advantage only once, when Chad Tracy came off the bench to deliver an RBI single in the top of the fifth and Werth followed with a sacrifice fly. Otherwise, the Nationals missed their chances. They hit into inning-ending double plays in the second, third and fourth innings. And they stranded the bases loaded in the sixth. Bryce Harper, in particular, had a rough day, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a killer, 6-4-3 double play.

Fielding lowlight: We usually reserve this spot for a pitching highlight or lowlight, but the bigger story today was what happened behind the Nationals' pitching staff. Or, more importantly, what happened high in the sky behind home plate. With a bright sun shining down on the field, Harper and Jayson Werth each let routine flyballs fall in for gift base hits, each of them helping the Brewers score runs. This was a problem on the last homestand, and you've got to think it's going to continue being a problem in October should MLB schedule any late-afternoon playoff games here. The sun wasn't the Nationals' only fielding problem today, though. Both Harper and Steve Lombardozzi were charged with errors in the top of the eighth, leading to another run to cap a sloppy afternoon for a team that has typically played flawlessly in the field this season.

Key stat: Today's paid attendance was 33,111. It was the ninth time the Nationals and Redskins have played simultaneous home games over the last eight years. The Nats' average attendance in those games: 29,802.

Up next: This series isn't over yet, folks. The Brewers are sticking around town and will return tomorrow afternoon for a fourth game in this wraparound series. Jordan Zimmermann and former National Marco Estrada square off at 1:05 p.m.