WASHINGTON (AP) - Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke saw his center fielder lose a ball in the sun. Then he saw his team lose its way the rest of the game.
Now Roenicke has to hope the Brewers aren't going to lose touch in the NL wild-card race.
A day after the Washington Nationals misplayed a pair of fly balls in the midday glare, it was the Brewers' turn to get in trouble. Carlos Gomez lost a ball in the sun, allowing Jayson Werth to end up with a two-out, two-run double as part of a six-run fourth inning Monday, and Milwaukee lost to Washington 12-2.
``Once it gets out of hand, it's tough to keep everybody's intensity there,' Roenicke said, ``and because of it, a lot of things go wrong.'
The Brewers didn't help their playoff chances after entering the day 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card slot.
Jordan Zimmermann (12-8) allowed one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings in the rare 1:05 p.m. weekday start. He also delivered two hits and drove in a run as a batter for the Nationals, who are a majors-best 93-60 and increased their division lead over the Atlanta Braves to five games with nine to play.
Marco Estrada (4-7) lasted only four innings for the Brewers, allowing seven runs - six earned - and eight hits. He acknowledged losing his composure ``a little bit' after Gomez's problems on Werth's ball into the sun.
``It felt like it was a blink of an eye,' Estrada said. ``I looked up, the score was 2-1, and I was like, `All right, let's get this guy out. Pop fly.' Next thing you know, it's 7-1. I couldn't believe it.'
As Roenicke put it: ``It would've been a good game if that ball's caught.'
Right after Zimmermann's RBI single broke a 1-all tie, Werth hit a high fly that could have been the third out - but Gomez couldn't find it.
``I don't remember a worse sun field, worse sun conditions,' said Werth, a major leaguer for a decade who plays right field for Washington. ``You almost don't have a chance out there as the game goes on.'
Gomez paused and held his glove up to try to shade his view, then suddenly scrambled to his left and tried to make a diving catch.
The ball smacked off the dark sweat band on his left forearm and trickled away.
``Nothing you can do,' Gomez said.
Roenicke knew his player was having a hard time locating the ball.
``As soon as the ball went up, he was 10 feet off,' Roenicke said. ``I was watching the ball, where it was, and watching where he was, and I could tell he was off line.'
After Bryce Harper walked and joined Werth in a double steal, Ryan Zimmerman sent a three-run shot to right-center for his 24th homer and a 7-1 lead.
In Milwaukee's 6-2 victory Sunday, Werth and Harper each failed to catch a ball because of the sun, leading to hits. Werth's misplay was on a shot by Gomez. Afterward, Harper joked about trouble dealing with the ``sun monster.'
``Payback,' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday. ``It's a tough sun. I mean, this time of year, that time of day.'
NOTES: Brewers 1B Corey Hart hit his 28th homer in the second inning. ... The Brewers open a three-game series at NL Central champion Cincinnati on Tuesday, with RHPs Mike Fiers (9-8), Shaun Marcum (5-4) and Wily Peralta (2-1) set to start for Milwaukee.
The Associated Press News Service
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