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MIL@WSH: Brewers fall on a walk-off in 10th

WASHINGTON -- Good luck trying to convince Ryan Braun that the Brewers gave one away Friday night.

"I thought we battled," Braun said. "You're going to win some of those games and you're going to lose some. We fought. It wasn't a game we necessarily gave away."

He cited Rickie Weeks' two-run home run through a howling wind at Nationals Park, and the Brewers' two-out rally in the ninth inning against Washington's closer to force extra innings before falling in the 10th, 4-3, on a frigid night in the nation's capital.

But consider the evidence to the contrary:

• Washington scored its first two runs on bases-loaded walks by Brewers starter Chris Narveson, one to a No. 8 hitter with an .050 batting average and another on a four-pitch walk to the opposing pitcher. Narveson walked three batters in that second inning, one more than he'd allowed in 14 scoreless innings to begin the season.

• The Nationals' other two runs scored on errant throws home. In the second inning, Washington outfielder Mike Morse appeared to briefly pause near third base before breaking home when Braun's throw went to the middle of the infield. Then, in the 10th, first baseman Prince Fielder's throw to the plate was too late and too wide to prevent Jayson Werth from scoring the winning run.

• And consider that Werth was only on base because of an error charged to Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who fielded Werth's bouncer with plenty of time, but whose throw tailed enough to pull Fielder into the baseline, where it appeared Werth made contact with Fielder's glove and caused the baseball to pop free while Werth advanced to second base.

Werth promptly stole third against Brewers reliever Zach Braddock (0-1), who looked back before delivering his pitch but never saw Werth break from second.

That was enough evidence to convince manager Ron Roenicke that his Brewers let one get away.

"We gave them some runs today," Roenicke said, "and that was the difference."

With the winning run at third base and only one out, Braun jogged in from left field to man shortstop, his old position at the University of Miami, and Betancourt shifted to a spot very near second base. Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche hit just the sharp ground ball the Brewers were hoping for, but Fielder's throw home was too late and too far up the third-base line.

Werth slid home safely, and the Brewers' four-game winning streak was history.

"One of the things that we talk about is the athleticism [that] has been added to club," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said of Werth. "I think the 10th inning was the great example. He was really aggressive to second base to begin with. ... He is at second, and he aggressively steals third. He gets a great jump on a ground ball with the infield in. He scored the run."

It appeared that Fielder may have struggled to get a good grip on the baseball after fielding LaRoche's grounder. Not so, he said.

"No, that wasn't it," Fielder said. "I mean, it happened pretty quick. He just beat me."

Would a perfect throw have gotten Werth? Fielder was not sure.

"They're going on contact at third base, and that's why you do it, because it puts pressure on that infielder to make a quick transfer," Roenicke said. "That throw into home, you don't practice it that much, and sometimes it's a tough play."

As for how Werth reached third base in the first place, Roenicke said, "We knew he was going to steal. Zach looked at him, but I could tell what Werth was doing. He was trying to time him, and he had him timed."

Chad Gaudin (1-1) took the win after replacing Nationals closer Sean Burnett, who suffered his first blown save when Weeks hit a two-out double in the ninth inning and scored on Carlos Gomez's single to left-center field.

Gomez tried to stretch his hit into a double, but Washington center fielder Rick Ankiel made up for a quiet night at the plate (0-for-5, two strikeouts, two groundouts to first base and a popup to third) by making a strong throw to second base. Gomez was out easily.

"In that situation, if I hit 100 balls over there, 100 times I go," Gomez said. "He made a great play. But I tell you again, if I hit 100 balls over there, I'm going 100 times. He got to the ball quick and made a perfect throw."

Narveson pitched 5 2/3 innings and was spared the loss by Gomez's tying hit, but was undone by one poor inning.

The second inning began with a leadoff walk to LaRoche, who entered the night hitting .143 against left-handers, and Wilson Ramos and Morse followed with ground-ball singles through the right side to load the bases. Narveson reclaimed some order with a strikeout, but then his control left him. Nationals third baseman Jerry Hairston worked to a full count and took a high and tight pitch to force in the game's first run, and Narveson followed with a four-pitch walk of Gorzelanny.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa's sacrifice fly to Braun made it 3-0.

"It was kind of a tough inning," Narveson said. "I had LaRoche 0-and-2 and ended up walking him. Then two groundballs go through holes. If either one goes at somebody, you get a double play and get out of the inning. They did a great job of being patient.

"I lost a little focus. You're trying so hard to get that first strike. Sometimes you aim it instead of throwing it. You think it's an easy strikeout or ground ball so sometimes you let up."

After that, Narveson settled in and so did Gorzelanny. The conditions certainly favored the pitchers, a strong wind blowing in from right field and temperatures that began plummeting as the Brewers prepared for batting practice.

"It was freezing, the ball wasn't going anywhere," Braun said. "To straight left field, the ball was carrying, but anything to right field, center, left-center, they hit a few balls well and we did, too."

Said Roenicke: "We killed some balls that didn't go anywhere."

Fielder was not interested in discussing the hitting conditions and offered a glimpse into what it feels like to see hits taken away -- both by Mother Nature and those dastardly infield shifts.

"It's tiring to do that to yourself," he said. "It's too long of a season to do that. That's like me saying, 'How many hits I could have if there was no shift?' That's dumb. Those are pointless thoughts. It's not productive. Rickie hit one out, so it wasn't impossible. You just couldn't miss it at all." Comments