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WSH@MIL: Fiers blanks Nationals over 6 1/3 innings

MILWAUKEE -- After losing seven straight games and dealing ace Zack Greinke to the Angels before the Trade Deadline, the Brewers finally saw things go their way against the Nationals on Friday night at Miller Park.

Mike Fiers pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings, and the offense gave him more than enough support, as Milwaukee beat Washington, 6-0, in the second game of a four-game series. The win snapped the Brewers' longest losing streak of the season and started the post-Greinke era on a positive note.

"We needed that one," Aramis Ramirez said. "We lost some tough games in Philadelphia, we didn't play well [Thursday], and we came out tonight and got some great pitching from Fiers."

That's nothing new for Fiers, who has allowed four total earned runs in his last seven starts. Friday's performance moved his record to 4-4, and his season ERA dropped to 1.77.

Before the game, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke described Fiers as "deceptive." Afterward, catcher Jonathan Lucroy said Fiers' "sneaky" delivery allows him to fan batters with a fastball that doesn't break 90 mph.

Fiers prefers a much simpler analysis of his style.

"I just try to throw as many strikes as I can," said Fiers, who threw 68 of his 108 pitches for strikes. "I try to get the guys to swing the bat. When you start throwing a lot of strikes, you get the guys ready to swing. Then you can expand the zone. I just think of myself as a strike thrower, and I try to throw as many strikes as I can."

Fiers was on top of his game from the opening pitch. He didn't allow a hit until one out in the fourth inning, striking out four of the first 10 batters he faced. Fiers allowed four hits and finished with nine strikeouts -- one shy of his career high.

"Sometimes balls that you thought were probably lower than what they were ended up at your knees, and balls that you thought were at your knees were higher than what you thought," Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa said. "It's one of those things where no one knows what he wants to do, but he pitched well, executed his pitches, threw everything for a strike. Tip your hat to him. He had a good game."

Friday marked Fiers' 10th start of the season, with each outing coming against a different team. Some, including Roenicke, wondered if that unfamiliarity was the reason behind his success. But as Fiers continues to impress, that notion has started to fade away.

"We've seen it long enough now," Roenicke said. "It's not just one team, it's every team he pitches against. So I think this guy is for real. I think as long as he stays confident, and [his mind] is good, I think he can keep doing it."

Despite Fiers' recent run of success, he's struggled to earn wins, in part because the Milwaukee offense had scored two runs or less in four of his last five starts entering Friday. That wasn't the case against the Nationals, though, as the Brewers used two big innings to pull away.

It started in the fourth, when Milwaukee scored two runs off Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, thanks to Ramirez's 34th double of the season and a blast over the left-field fence by Corey Hart in the next at-bat.

One inning later, the Crew added to its lead with a two-out flurry. Leadoff man Norichika Aoki got things started with a double before scoring on a Carlos Gomez single. After Gomez stole second and reached third on a throwing error, Ryan Braun brought him home with another single, which Ramirez followed with a two-run homer.

"That's the baseball we're capable of playing," Fiers said. "We have great pitchers and hitters here that can get the job done any night. We just need to put it all together every night and come out and play."

With the news of the Greinke trade breaking before Friday's game began, Roenicke said he was impressed with the concentration his players displayed in the win. He said it helped that the players expected a trade to come eventually, "but any time you lose one of your main guys, it changes the feeling about things."

Lucroy admitted after the game that it was tough to see Greinke leave. But even with his departure, Lucroy said he and the rest of the Brewers have no intention on throwing in the towel this season.

"It's still a game; you're still going to be competitive and want to win," Lucroy said. "We're going to go down fighting. It's just one of those things. I think we proved tonight that we can go out there and hang with anybody. Those guys are a pretty good team over there, and we just put it on them."

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