WASHINGTON (AP) - The Milwaukee Brewers couldn't hit Stephen Strasburg's nasty curveball and lost their own starting pitcher to a hamstring injury in the sixth inning.
But they broke a six-game losing streak with the benefit of a season-long trend: The Washington Nationals' bats don't give their ace much support.
After Strasburg made the Brewers look foolish for seven scoreless innings, Juan Francisco hit a two-run double in the eighth Tuesday night to start a scoring spree off reliever Drew Storen (2-2) in a 4-0 win.
So, afterward, there was certainly happiness about the win, but also plenty of awe about that kid named Strasburg.
``That's the first time I've really seen him live - so explosive fastball, really ridiculous curveball,' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ``You don't see too many curveballs like that.'
Or this, from Rickie Weeks: ``You think you have a pitch here, a pitch there, but he makes that perfect pitch on you. It was good to get him out of there.'
Strasburg's ERA dropped to 2.24 and nearly overshadowed the game's actual outcome. All eight of his strikeouts came on curveballs. He was done after seven innings and 105 pitches in a 0-0 game.
The Nationals had scored 23 runs in their previous two games, but they've now been shut out nine times this season.
To get an idea of the their lack of support for Strasburg, here is the running tally of earned runs he's allowed in his past nine starts: 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 0. His record during that stretch? Just 3-2.
``You know, I'm tired of talking about that,' he said. ``These guys battle every single day, just like I do, and it just didn't work out for us tonight. But I'd like to get over that. I'd like to stop answering questions about run support.'
With Strasburg gone, Francisco got the big hit off Storen and scored when Martin Maldonado hit a warning track fly ball that popped out of left field Bryce Harper's glove. It ruled a double but Harper said simply: ``I dropped it.'
Maldonado then scored on Jeff Bianchi's groundball single that got through the infield only because Maldonado was trying to steal third with an absurd jump off Storen, who still hasn't figured out how to hold men on base.
``Fall behind these guys,' Storen said, ``give them something to hit and they're going to take care of it. ... I made mistakes not holding the runners and fell behind guys.'
The earned runs were the first allowed by Storen in 10 appearances, and they made Jim Henderson (3-2) the winning pitcher. Brewers starter Wily Peralta had his own shutout in the making until he left during the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring. Henderson was one of four relievers who finished the eight-hitter.
Roenicke said he's hoping Peralta's tight hamstring was simply the result of a lack of fluid on a humid day.
``We're hoping in a couple days he'll be all right,' Roenicke said.
The Brewers managed only three hits against Strasburg. Two never left the infield, and one appeared to result from a bad call at first on a grounder to the hole by Norichika Aoki.
Strasburg was hardly facing the most imposing lineup in the majors. The Brewers started without shortstop Jean Segura and center fielder Carlos Gomez, who have 196 hits combined. Both have nagging injuries that need some rest, a thumb for Segura and a shoulder for Gomez. Also, team RBI leader Jonathan Lucroy didn't start because Maldonado usually catches Peralta.
Ryan Braun, on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right thumb, took some swings in the batting cage, but he's not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
``We're getting to the point where it's not pain-free,' Braun said. ``But a lot better than it was.'
NOTES: The Brewers had been outscored 36-16 during their losing streak. ... The Nationals sent outright RHP Cole Kimball to Triple-A Syracuse.
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