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Counsell's grand slam kick-starts Brewers' victory at Washington

WASHINGTON -- Even with guys like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the lineup, Milwaukee has not exactly been outscoring opponents on a regular basis this season.

So as hitter after hitter reached base against Washington starter Jason Marquis to begin Sunday's game, and runner after runner scored, the Brewers couldn't help but be amused.

A wild Marquis faced seven Brewers, and this is what resulted: four singles, two hit batters, one walk. Then reliever Miguel Batista allowed Craig Counsell's grand slam, part of a 10-run first inning that sent Milwaukee to an 11-7 victory over Washington.

It was a rousing, 14-batter, 28-minute half-inning for a Brewers club that was shut out on four hits by Livan Hernandez on Saturday and hadn't scored more than eight runs in a game this season.

"We were just kind of laughing about how it shows what a crazy game baseball is: Couldn't buy a hit yesterday, and the floodgates open the very next day," Counsell said.

It's the fifth time in history the Brewers scored at least 10 runs in an inning -- and first since 2001. They never before did it in the first inning.

For Marquis (0-3, 20.52 ERA), the outing represented his latest poor performance since signing a $15 million, two-year contract as a free agent. It's also the shortest start of his major league career.

"It's an embarrassment what I'm doing out there right now. I've got to find an answer quick," said the right-hander, who threw in a hitting cage under the stands after leaving the game. "I just don't feel like there's anything behind the ball. I don't feel any power. ... The movement's not there. The location's not there."

Both Marquis and Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said the pitcher is not hurt.

Riggleman said he will consider skipping Marquis' next turn or sending him back out on short rest, but won't drop him from the rotation. "We made a commitment to him over the offseason."

The Brewers let the Nationals chip away at the margin. But in the end, Milwaukee avoided a three-game sweep against a team coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons. The Brewers also dropped the Nationals to 6-6 in 2010 after a 24-hour stay above .500 for the first time in more than two years.

Staked to that 10-0 lead, Milwaukee's Doug Davis couldn't earn his first win, falling one out shy. He only lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs and 11 hits.

"Not being able to get out of the fifth inning -- you just can't explain it," Davis said.

Claudio Vargas (1-0) was credited with the win for two innings of relief. Manny Parra followed and gave up a two-run double in the seventh to pinch-hitter Ian Desmond, who was thrown out at home by center fielder Carlos Gomez on Adam Kennedy's single, ending the inning.

"That was some throw," Riggleman said. "That kid's electric."

Marquis was charged with seven runs, and it all started with an infield single by Rickie Weeks, followed by a single by Counsell. After Braun's RBI single, pitching coach Steve McCatty paid a visit to Marquis, which apparently didn't help matters, because the next batter, Fielder, was hit by a pitch.

Marquis forced in a run by walking Casey McGehee on four pitches -- nearly hitting him with the fourth -- and sent another runner home by hitting Jim Edmonds on the left foot.

"Marquis kind of lost it there," Brewers manager Ken Macha noted.

Said Counsell: "You could tell he really didn't know where the ball was going."

Sarcastic clapping greeted a second-pitch strike to Gregg Zaun, who then lined a run-scoring single. That was Marquis' 28th pitch -- 15 balls, 13 strikes -- and his last. Fans in the announced crowd of 18,789 roared their approval as Riggleman emerged from the dugout.

"He needs to come back, just get ahead in the count, throw strikes, don't think too much," catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "I think he's [doing] a little bit of thinking right now."

Gomez hit an infield single off Batista, bringing up Davis, who dug into the batter's box before setting foot on the pitching rubber. His sacrifice fly accounted for the game's first out -- and made the score 6-0. After Weeks walked, Counsell hit his first homer.

Batista then struck out Braun and, after walking Fielder, got McGehee -- the 14th batter of the inning -- to ground out, drawing more full-throated cheering.

Game notes
Rodriguez's three hits lifted his average to .444. ... The Brewers have used 12 lineups in 12 games. ... Nationals CF Nyjer Morgan was out of the starting lineup for the first time, replaced by Willy Taveras.