MILWAUKEE -- The Nationals wasted a three-run lead and lost to the Brewers, 8-5, at Miller Park on Sunday afternoon. The Nationals now find themselves 12 games behind the Braves in the National League East, pending the Braves-Phillies game Sunday night, and the two clubs play an important three-game series at Nationals Park starting Monday night
"They are getting to be all important at this point," right fielder Jayson Werth said. " … We play them nine more times. We need to win."
The Nationals continue to have problems scoring runs. After scoring three runs in the second inning, they still had runners on first and second with one out, but both Denard Span and Bryce Harper flied out to end the threat.
An inning later, the Nationals had runners on first and second with no outs, but Adam LaRoche struck out and Ian Desmond hit into a double play. Overall, the Nationals went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"We had plenty of opportunities. We just didn't do it," manager Davey Johnson said. "That has been [part of the problem] all year -- getting runners in scoring position, don't swing the bat or get the big hit."
Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan was cruising during the first five innings, allowing a run on two hits. His fastball was clocked as high as 95 mph.
"I was feeling good," Jordan said. "Everything seemed to be working . It's just how I wanted it. And then the sixth inning came around and something changed."
It all fell apart for Jordan in the sixth inning. It didn't help that he ran out of gas. Milwaukee had the bases loaded with no outs when Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Logan Schafer to trim the Nationals' lead to 4-2.
"The balls were elevated a little bit. I was trying too hard," Jordan said. "I think I lost a little bit of life and the ball started to cut a little bit."
After the game, Jordan announced that he has approximately four more starts before he is shut down for the season because of the Tommy John surgery he had in 2011. Stephen Strasburg went through the same procedure last year.
"I try not to think about it," Jordan said.
After the sacrifice fly by Gomez, Jordan left the game in favor of left-hander Fernando Abad, who wasn't hit hard, but ended up becoming the losing pitcher. Pinch-hitter Khris Davis followed Gomez and hit a chopper over the head of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, scoring Jean Segura. Juan Francisco tied the score at 4 when he doubled past first baseman LaRoche, scoring Jonathan Lucroy.
Johnson later went to complain to home-plate umpire Gary Darling to say that the ball hit by Francisco was foul, but the play stood.
"I thought it was foul," LaRoche said. "I didn't get a good view of my angle running over. When I came back into the locker room [to look at the video], it was foul. Close, but foul. It was a bad break. There is nothing you can do. I tell [first-base umpire David Rackley] what I thought and then ask if he wants to ask for help. He messed up on that one. I feel like they got a good view of it. … After that, nothing you can do."
The Brewers then took a 6-4 lead when Jeff Bianchi blooped a single to center field, scoring Davis and Francisco.
"One inning, sometimes it's just one big at-bat," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You don't know what's going to turn things around. We got some breaks for once. Chopped a ball over third base and then Bianchi bloops one into center. We battled, we put the ball in play and when you do that, good things happen."
In close games, Johnson usually uses left-hander Ian Krol in situations like Sunday's. But Johnson said Abad had better success against right-handers than Krol. While right-handers are hitting .237 against both pitchers, Abad had a better OPS against -- .568 to .670 prior to Sunday's action.
"Abad made good pitches. They just nicked him to death. It's tough," Johnson said.
The Nationals made it a one-run game in the seventh when Anthony Rendon hit a solo home run over the left-center-field wall. But Milwaukee added insurance runs off right-hander Craig Stammen. In the seventh inning, Lucroy hit a sharp ground ball to Zimmerman, who made a nice diving play and threw out Lucroy, but Schafer scored on the play. An inning later, Davis scored on a squeeze bunt by Bianchi.
"We let one get away from us today," Span said. "We have to think about winning games. We have to keep battling. Don't quit trying to win the division until you are mathematically out of it."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.