MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' starting pitching tank is running on empty. In a season that has seen almost everything off the field go wrong for the ballclub, Milwaukee hurlers are having trouble staying on it.
Tom Gorzelanny was the latest victim to the injury bug, getting zapped Friday by a second-inning line drive off his pitching elbow in an eventual 4-1 loss to the Nationals to begin a three-game series at Miller Park.
The Brewers' starting rotation was already a mess entering Friday with Yovani Gallardo on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring suffered in his Tuesday start. Milwaukee received good news when Gorzelanny's X-rays came back negative, but the lefty was in considerable pain Friday night, and if he misses time, manager Ron Roenicke will need to shuffle his staff yet again.
Maybe Milwaukee's starters are simply snake bitten this year.
"We are, no doubt," Roenicke said. "You know, why can't it hit him in another part of the body instead of the left elbow? It just keeps going on. We'll figure it out. Hopefully he'll be able to make [his next] start."
If not, the Brewers have few options to go to. Long relievers Donovan Hand and Gorzelanny were already shifted from the bullpen to the starting rotation to fill the gap left by other injuries. Top prospect Tyler Thornburg will make Monday's start for Gallardo, and Marco Estrada is still working back from a hamstring injury dating back to early June.
Alfredo Figaro recently returned from his own month-long stint on the DL and relieved Gorzelanny to throw four solid innings. But the bullpen still was exhausted with Burke Badenhop, John Axford, Brandon Kintzler and Michael Gonzalez each making appearances.
"It's very frustrating," Gorzelanny said. "I felt really good in the first inning and warming up. I threw one inning and it really hurt the bullpen for the next couple days. That's always tough to do and tough to swallow. Hopefully we can get through this and move on."
Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann -- an Auburndale, Wis., native -- made the Brewers' injury troubles sting a little worse. The right-hander scattered four hits over six scoreless innings, while striking out five and walking four. He snapped a personal three-game losing streak and picked up his National League-lead-tying 13th win.
In his previous two starts, Zimmermann coughed up 12 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings (12.46 ERA). He allowed 14 hits, including four home runs, and opposing hitters were swinging to a .359 average off him.
Friday was a different story.
"You always want to do well in your home state in front of all your family and friends," Zimmermann said. "I was happy to put up some zeros and get the month of July over with and get a new month."
While putting up zeros against Zimmermann, the Brewers made it tougher on themselves with poor defense and baserunning. Carlos Gomez may have run the Brewers out of at least one run in fourth inning.
Gomez led off the frame with a walk and stole second base before breaking for third with one out and Juan Francisco at the plate. He was easily thrown out by catcher Wilson Ramos, and it hurt when Francisco drilled a double off the center-field wall shortly after. Zimmermann stranded Francisco at second with a strikeout of Jeff Bianchi.
Roenicke said Gomez was running on his own and missed a sign.
"I got a bad jump," Gomez said. "I saw he was going to throw a breaking ball and he did. But I had a really bad jump. It's a tough out, because there was only one out and Francisco is a big guy. He hit the double and the game would be tied and the game would be changed."
An error in the fifth inning and an error in the ninth led to the Nationals' first and last runs.
In the fifth, Ian Desmond led off with a double and took off for third with Denard Span at the plate. The throw from catcher Jonathan Lucroy got away from Bianchi at third base and rolled into shallow left field, allowing Desmond to score and the Nationals to go up, 1-0. An error was charged to Bianchi on the play.
With the Nationals leading, 3-1, in the ninth, Rickie Weeks short-armed a sure double-play ball that bounced under his glove and into right-center field, allowing Span to trot home from third and giving Washington a three-run cushion.
"We made some mistakes again today," Roenicke said. "The Desmond steal hurt us. You get behind on these guys and you go into the ninth inning and you have to score three runs to tie it; makes it tough. Really we gave them a couple runs. We need to play better."
Bryce Harper put the Nationals up 2-0 with an upper-deck home run to right field off Badenhop to lead off the sixth inning, and another Nationals run crossed the plate in the seventh on Anthony Rendon's RBI single.
The Brewers' lone run came from Lucroy's 16th home run, a solo shot off Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning.
Rafael Soriano pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his 27th save.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.