WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals sold thousands of tickets for $1 to celebrate the arrival of Stephen Strasburg. The Milwaukee Brewers crashed the party and provided some bang for the buck.
Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee homered, and Milwaukee broke a four-game losing streak Friday night with a 7-3 victory.
Braden Looper (11-6) allowed two runs over six innings for the Brewers, who managed a win over a sub-.500 team for a change. Their struggles against teams with losing records — including this week's sweep by the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates — have all but pushed them out of the playoff race.
"You never know what can happen," Looper said. "We've seen crazy things in this game before, and hopefully it's the start of a winning streak."
The Brewers beat a Nationals franchise that has produced a week of good news and bad results. Washington is 0-4 since beating Monday night's deadline to sign No. 1 overall pick Strasburg, and even the midweek promotion of Mike Rizzo to general manager failed to generate enough good vibes to make a difference on the field.
Strasburg was ubiquitous Friday in his first visit to Nationals Park. He held two news conferences. One took place in front of a few hundred fans on a platform near third base five hours before the first pitch, with fireworks exploding above the stadium just before he spoke. He was interviewed live between innings during the game, his image unmissable on the giant outfield scoreboard, and again during the local television broadcast. The Nationals sold 7,700 of the $1 tickets to mark the occasion, accounting for the above-average gate of 26,307, and he was so busy he barely had time to speak to his future teammates.
"He was kind of getting overwhelmed and bombarded," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "I said my piece and moved on — like the president."
One thing the 100-mph-throwing right-hander from San Diego State couldn't control was the weather: The heat index was 100 degrees during his on-field news conference, and the game was delayed 20 minutes by rain in the eighth inning.
And, for the Nationals' sake, it was too bad he's not yet ready to pitch. Rookie J.D. Martin (2-3) allowed a two-run home run to Fielder in the first and a solo shot by McGehee in the fourth. Fielder's line drive to center field was his 33rd homer and gave him a majors-leading 110 RBIs, but McGehee's 10th homer meant just as much to manager Ken Macha, who has been looking for more power from players other than Fielder and Ryan Braun.
"Generally speaking, whoever hits the most home runs wins the game," Macha said. "Home runs, instant offense, to me it's a big part of what happens in major league baseball."
The Nationals also had two homers, solo shots in the first and ninth. Dunn hit No. 32 early, and Ryan Zimmerman set a new career high with No. 25 late.
Felipe Lopez added a two-out RBI single in the seventh for the Brewers, who piled on three more runs in the ninth off reliever Jorge Sosa.
Looper settled down after giving up two runs in the first. Todd Coffey tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief for the Brewers, and Trevor Hoffman allowed his first home run of the year — Zimmerman's in the ninth — in a non-save situation.
NOTES: While not necessarily plentiful, Nationals fans have been generally supportive — at least enough to tug at interim manager Jim Riggleman's heartstrings. "The positive stuff we hear from fans — that makes you feel good about humanity, you know," the manager said. "These people are not howling and screaming at us." ... Fielder got a rare bit of rest when he was subbed in the ninth, only the second inning in the field he has missed all season. ... INF Mike Morse, whose contract was purchased Monday from Triple-A Syracuse, made his Nationals debut. He lined out to first as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. ... The Brewers placed RHP Jesus Colome on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right forearm. The move is retroactive to Aug. 18. The club purchased the contract of LHP Chris Narveson from Triple-A Nashville. ... Milwaukee RHP Dave Bush, on the DL with a triceps injury, will make a rehab start at Double-A Huntsville on Saturday. ... The Nationals fell to 17-18 under Riggleman.