MILWAUKEE -- Drew Storen threw a scoreless seventh inning in Friday night's 6-0 loss to the Brewers, and he looked a lot more like, well, Drew Storen.
The right-hander allowed a leadoff single, then retired the next three batters he faced -- Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez -- and showed off the arsenal that helped him save 43 games in 2011. It was Storen's fifth appearance of the season and just his second full inning, but he looked and felt like he was getting back to where he should be following right-elbow surgery in April.
"Storen was outstanding," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He looked like where he was at last year."
"That's a good test for me. I felt really good," added Storen. "I felt like I could command my pitches. The slider's getting there.
"Facing a full inning and facing those hitters, that's a part of the process. I told myself that's a tie ballgame, so it's about putting yourself in that situation. Against those guys, it's a good thing for me."
Storen's fastball velocity was up a tick from where it had been, but he said that wasn't a product of him gaining strength so much as the "explosion" out of his hand, which he got back while still commanding the pitch with some movement. The same goes for his sharper slider, though he said that was more a result of him feeling comfortable back in a game situation.
"It's a feel thing, really. It's learning to pitch in that sixth gear, that extra gear that you don't get anywhere else," Storen said. "As much as you want to work on things in the bullpen or throw them before the game, the only way you really get that feel for that and get the slider that made me effective last year is to do that.
"I've seen improvement the last two times out there, and I expect to do the same the next time I'm out there."