MILWAUKEE -- Nationals reliever Todd Coffey was touched by the warm welcome he was given by the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans when he entered Wednesday's 6-4 loss in the seventh inning.
The crowd of 34,419 cheered loudly while Coffey sprinted from the bullpen to the mound, just as he did many times for the Brewers from 2008-10. It was his first game action in Milwaukee since leaving the Brewers in the offseason.
The Brewers also played his "Ultimate Warrior" entrance music and timed his sprint on the scoreboard, just as they did when he was with the team.
"The crowd was always behind me when I was playing here," he said. "It was really nice and it was really classy.
"I've never seen an opposing player get anything like that whenever they come in, so I didn't think it was going to happen. It was a lot of class on their part to do that."
Coffey has said he originally started sprinting into games because he was so excited to play and that the burst of energy it took to run that hard helped calm him down.
Nationals coming together defensively
MILWAUKEE -- The statistics show the Nationals are in the middle of the pack among National League teams when it comes to defense this season. Manager Jim Riggleman says the stats don't tell the entire story about how well his team has played in the field, particularly the last month.
"I think, in the last five, going on six weeks now, we've been the best defensive club in the league, but the numbers don't tell you that," Riggleman said before Wednesday's game against the Brewers.
"It's a shame that the statistics don't really reflect it."
A close look at the defensive stats since April 29 show how well the Nationals are playing in the field. The team has just six errors in its last 24 games, the fewest in the Majors. Washington's fielding percentage is .993 (six errors in 871 total chances) during that span.
"I want those numbers defensively to reflect how well the players are playing," Riggleman said. "They should be proud of the way we've played.
"They've really played great defense. Those in-between hops that become errors -- our guys have handled those. [We're] throwing the ball accurately."
Reliever Rodriguez a late-inning option
MILWAUKEE -- Despite getting saddled with a loss Tuesday night, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman likes using Henry Rodriguez in late-inning situations.
Riggleman knows that batters don't like having to face Rodriguez and his fastball, which is typically in the high 90-mph range.
"Guys like [Milwaukee's Casey] McGehee and [Rickie] Weeks ... they're going to thank me for not bringing Rodriguez in, you know?" Riggleman said.
Riggleman said the bullpen roles have started to become defined as the season progresses. Drew Storen is the closer, while Tyler Clippard and Rodriguez will often pitch in the seventh and eighth innings, he said.
That leaves left-hander Sean Burnett, who has converted four of seven save chances, to face a left-handed batter in a key situation late, Riggleman said. Some may feel it's a diminished role for Burnett, but Riggleman said the lefty still is a key part of the bullpen.
"I don't see him as a lefty specialist," Riggleman said. "His numbers against right-handers don't match up where they did last year, but he's throwing the ball very well. I think he's throwing the ball great. Again, I don't think numbers indicate how well I think he's throwing."
However, the manager said he prefers to have Rodriguez in the late-inning role.
"Cut to the chase -- I got a guy throwing 100 mph down there ready to pitch in the eighth inning," Riggleman said. "He's going to pitch. They're going to have to beat him instead of my left-hander."
Morse wielding a hot bat at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- Nationals first baseman Michael Morse says he's just trying to be a consistently good hitter, but he's certainly been on a hot streak at Miller Park.
After hitting a three-run homer in the third inning on Wednesday, Morse had five homers, a double and 12 RBIs in six career games at the Brewers' stadium.
Morse was the Nationals' starting left fielder on Opening Day, but he slumped and lost his job. He's now started three consecutive games at first since Adam LaRoche was placed on the disabled list with a torn labrum and a small tear in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder.
Morse said before Wednesday's game he simply was trying to remain consistent and didn't want to talk about his strong numbers at Miller Park.
Joe DiGiovanni is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.