Even top-10 teams have off days.
Ninth-ranked Washington had won 21 of its previous 23 games before Stanford left-hander John Hochstatter tossed a five-hitter Sunday and sent UW to a 6-3 loss in front of 1,460 at Husky Ballpark.
The Huskies (24-7-1, 12-3 Pac-12) still won two of three in the weekend series with Stanford (12-16, 4-8) and lead the conference by one game over second-place, sixth-ranked Oregon State (27-7, 11-4) at the midpoint of the Pac-12 season.
UW starter Jeff Brigham allowed six runs (three earned) in the first three innings to fall to 4-1. He had not allowed more than one run in six of his previous eight starts.
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Coach Lindsay Meggs expressed no concern over what is now a rare UW loss. In the last three seasons, Washington had dropped seven of nine to the Cardinal.
“I feel good about the weekend,” he said. “It shows you where our program is right now, to say we might be disappointed because we didn’t sweep Stanford at home. That tells you how far we’ve come in a short period of time.”
Meggs concedes you can’t win ’em all.
“I think we’re a little bit fatigued on the mental side, all the conversation about this many out of that many and X in a row,” he said. “I think it wore us down a little bit today.
“We’ve been playing at a pretty high level, and we’ve got a lot of guys pressing and pushing themselves to try and maintain that level. That’s almost impossible to do. To win at the level we’ve been winning is remarkable. We’re happy about it.”
Cardinal hitters swung aggressively early against Brigham, putting runners on second and third with one out (via a single, error and bunt) after just three pitches.
Austin Slater then ripped a 1-1 pitch to center, scoring two. Three batters later, a slicing fly ball to deep left by Brent Whiting dropped just inside the line for a two-run double and a 4-0 lead.
Stanford stretched it to 6-0 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Zach Hoffpauir and an RBI single by Alex Dunlap.
Robert Pehl led off the UW fourth with his fourth home run, a blast to center. In the seventh, Austin Rei smacked his first homer, bringing in Trevor Matsui, who led off with a single. Rei is batting .360 in Pac-12 games. He entered the weekend 11th in hitting in conference play.
Being expected to win is different, said Rei. “For every sophomore through fifth-year senior, we’ve never been in this position before,” he said. “It’s new to us. This game might be a little speed bump, but in the broader scheme of things, we’re doing really well and we’re happy about where we are.”
UW hosts Northern Colorado (5-30) on Monday at 5 p.m.