The Washington Nationals ' Stephen Strasburg was ready to get past his worst outing of the season not long after it ended. A matchup with the Miami Marlins would appear to give him an ideal opportunity to do just that.
The right-hander will try to extend his 21-inning scoreless streak against the Marlins on Sunday while helping the Nationals bolster their NL East lead.
After going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA over his previous three starts, Strasburg (11-5, 3.12 ERA) matched a career high with six runs allowed in an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
"Obviously, he didn't have his best stuff and his location wasn't real good," manager Davey Johnson said. "He was fighting himself, young pitcher, lost a little poise. It's part of growing up."
A pair of homers accounted for four runs, and Strasburg gave up another six hits over his four innings.
"It's always a new day, so you can't really worry about what you did the last time," he said. "I've just got to keep moving forward."
A matchup with the Marlins (49-59) could help the right-hander move on. He's 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six career starts against Miami, including two this season.
Strasburg has lasted six innings in each and his scoreless streak is tied for the fourth-longest active one for a starting pitcher against any opponent. Nationals teammate Gio Gonzalez owns the longest, but his run of 27 2-3 shutout innings is against Cleveland.
The Nationals (64-43) would love to see Strasburg top that mark and earn another win over Miami. After splitting a series-opening doubleheader, Washington rallied for a 10-7 victory Saturday after overcoming a season high-tying three errors.
Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper homered during a six-run eighth inning, and Adam LaRoche hit a pair of home runs, giving him seven in his last 11 games. LaRoche is also batting .439 (18 for 41) with 14 RBIs over that stretch.
The win, coupled with Atlanta's loss to Houston, put the Nationals three games ahead of the Braves in the division."It started out a very sloppy game on our end, really for the majority of that game," LaRoche said. "To turn it around like that, it says something about this club. Not that we should be surprised. We've been doing it all year."
In this game, LaRoche and the Nationals will face Ricky Nolasco (8-10, 4.90), who is 0-4 with a 7.48 ERA over his last four starts.
Nolasco suffered the first of those defeats against Strasburg on July 15, giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in his only matchup with Washington this season. He allowed another four runs over five innings during a 7-1 loss in Atlanta on Tuesday.
"It's just a tough time right now for me, and a lot of people," he told the team's website. "We have to deal with it."
Jose Reyes will try to help his team salvage the series finale while extending his hit streak to 24 games. The shortstop tied the New York Yankees ' Robinson Cano for the longest streak in the majors this season by going 3 for 4 on Saturday.
Reyes, batting .376 over his streak, is 3 for 6 with two doubles lifetime against Strasburg. Carlos Lee , 17 for 34 (.500) during a 10-game hit streak, is 2 for 7 with five runs scored during the series.
Washington's Michael Morse , owner of a 13-game hit streak, is 3 for 9 versus Nolasco.
|August 04, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 03, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb sprain|
|July 29, 2012||Logan Morrison||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 23, 2012||Juan Carlos Oviedo||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|July 08, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic right knee surgery|
|July 08, 2012||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Right finger laceration|
|August 01, 2012||Henry Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|July 29, 2012||Adam LaRoche||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back tightness|
|July 22, 2012||Ian Desmond||15-Day DL||Torn left oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Jhonatan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg wouldn't admit his poorest outing this season gave him added motivation. His teammates saw something extra in his dominating performance Sunday.
Strasburg pitched three-hit ball over six shutout innings and drove in two runs to lead the Washington Nationals over the Miami Marlins 4-1.
"He came out a little angry," Washington's Jayson Werth said. "I think he acted like he had something to prove today, and he pitched really good. I like that Stras."
Strasburg (12-5) struck out six and walked one, extending his scoreless streak against the Marlins to 27 innings and lowering his ERA to 2.97 in 127 1-3 innings.
"He's a way better pitcher. Before he was a thrower," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's matured. He's better."
In his previous start, Tuesday against Philadelphia, Strasburg tied his career high by giving up six runs. Strasburg has allowed four runs or more four times this season and in his next starts has gone 4-0 and allowed just two earned runs.
"I'm still learning how to pitch and call a game and really pick up on little things that happen in the game that you can use to your advantage," Strasburg said. "Today was a big step forward for me in that process, but there's still a long way to go."
The right-hander is pitching his first full major league season following reconstructive elbow surgery in 2010. Washington officials say they plan to end his season early, and he is thought to have a limit of about 160 innings, although the Nationals have not been specific.
Strasburg's strong day extended from the mound to the plate. In the second inning he came up with runners on second and third and one out, and hit a two-run single to right field. He's batting .343 (12 for 35) with seven RBIs.
"Someone said, `When we shut him down, can we keep his bat? Can we use him as a pinch hitter?"' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said with a smile. "Highly unlikely."
Strasburg gave up a double to Scott Cousins in the first inning, then retired his next nine batters. He never allowed more than one runner in an inning.
"He was great. That was back to the old Stras," Adam LaRoche said. "There was something about when he came to the dugout before the game. We could all sense a different attitude today. I don't know if it was something to prove to himself, that he still had it or to be able bounce back from the last one - whatever it was, he had a little fire in his belly."
LaRoche was 2 for 3 with his own two-run single in the second inning as the Nationals won three of four from Miami and maintained a three-game lead over second-place Atlanta in the NL East. LaRoche is hitting .442 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in his last 14 games.
Drew Storen pitched a one-hit ninth for his first save since Sept. 28. It was the first save chance for Storen since he returned July 19 from right elbow surgery.
"That was a lot of fun," Storen said. "Especially when you're pitching for a first-place team in that situation, it doesn't get much better than that."
Miami's Jose Reyes hit a fourth-inning single that extended his hitting streak to 24 games, the longest in the majors this season. Reyes starts a series Tuesday at his former team, the New York Mets .
Ricky Nolasco (8-11) gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in six innings. He is 0-5 with a 7.16 ERA in his last five starts, allowing at least four runs in each.
Miami scored in the seventh when Carlos Lee and Greg Dobbs led off with back-to-back doubles against Craig Stammen . The double gave Lee an 11-game hitting streak, the 19th time in his career he's hit safely in at least 10 straight games.
NOTES: Nationals LF Michael Morse singled in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest for the Nationals this season. ... After striking out swinging in the fourth inning, Harper slammed his bat on the plate, breaking it in half. Miami catcher John Buck said Harper apologized during his next at-bat. "I told him, `Don't worry about it. I did the same thing when I was your age. It was a metal bat, and I was in high school,"' Buck said. "It's a learning experience in front of the eyes of the whole country and the world. I bet you he won't do that any more - at least in the next couple of weeks." ... The Nationals start a 10-game trip Monday at Houston. Washington has the best road record (33-21) in the majors.