Stephen Strasburg 's season has come down to two more starts.
The star right-hander makes what is expected to be his last start at Nationals Park this year when Washington tries for a season-high sixth straight home victory Friday night against the Miami Marlins .
All season, the Nationals organization said it would limit the 24-year-old's innings two years after he underwent Tommy John surgery. After Strasburg (15-6, 2.94 ERA) allowed two hits and struck out nine in six innings of a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Sunday - raising his innings total to 156 1-3 over 27 starts - manager Davey Johnson announced the All-Star would make two more starts.
Strasburg's last appearance of 2012 is likely to come at New York on Wednesday for the NL-leading Nationals (85-52)."I'm not sure any of us understand," Johnson said. "But it's the right thing to do.
"I don't look at this as the only chance you're going to get to be in the postseason, the World Series. This team wasn't just piecemealed together for one year. It was built to last, and we're trying to make sure it lasts."
Strasburg, who ranks among the major league leaders with 195 strikeouts, met with Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo to talk about the decision.
"It's no secret that Stras is an intense competitor," Johnson said. "It's probably eating him up more than anybody involved in this whole thing because he wants to be here and helping his teammates."
At least publicly, Strasburg only seems concerned with the matter at hand."I'm just focused on the next start," he said.
Strasburg had a streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings over five starts against the Marlins (61-77) before he was tagged for seven runs - five earned - in five innings of a 9-0 loss at Miami on Aug. 28.
Strasburg, who called that outing a "learning experience," faces a Marlins club that has won twice in eight games since that victory. One of those came Thursday, 6-2 over Milwaukee to conclude a 3-6 homestand.
Miami's Jose Reyes is 4 for 12 with two doubles against Strasburg, and batting .423 (11 for 26) with five doubles in six games at Washington this season. The Marlins, however, have lost five of those contests.
Washington improved to 7-1 on its 11-game homestand by concluding a four-game sweep of the lowly Chicago Cubs with a 9-1 victory Thursday. Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run homer and Adam LaRoche added his 29th as the Nationals won for the eight time in nine games overall.
The rookie right-hander allowed five runs in five innings of that contest."I threw a couple of pitches over really good and got really good results, and also threw a couple of pitches that were really bad and were bad results," Turner said. "I just have to be more consistent."
LaRoche, who had a hit in two at-bats versus Turner, is 11 for 21 (.524) with six homers and 11 RBIs in his last six games overall. He's batted .391 (9 for 23) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last six versus Miami.
|September 04, 2012||Heath Bell||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 22, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|August 13, 2012||Nick Green||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 04, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 04, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|August 04, 2012||Donnie Murphy||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|September 03, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore right ankle|
|August 05, 2012||Mark DeRosa||15-Day DL||Left abdominal strain|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A terrible outing might have earned Stephen Strasburg an additional start.
Strasburg matched his career low by lasting only three innings, allowing five runs Friday night in the Washington Nationals ' 9-7, 10-inning loss to the Miami Marlins .
"To be honest with you, I think he just is thinking too much about the decision when we're going to shut him down," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "And he kind of wore it. He didn't like it. But that's the way it is."
Strasburg, 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA, allowed two runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third, giving up six hits - including home runs to Giancarlo Stanton and Rob Brantly . He threw 67 pitches and was pinch hit for in the third.
In his first full season following elbow-ligament replacement surgery on Sept. 3, 2010, Strasburg has 197 strikeouts in 159 1-3 innings.
"I didn't command the fastball, kept on getting behind in the counts," Strasburg said. "I wasn't able to use my other pitches effectively and they kept teeing off on me a little bit."
The Nationals, wanting to protect the arm of the 24-year-old right-hander, had said next Wednesday's start at the New York Mets likely will be his final appearance of the season, even though Washington is likely to see postseason baseball for the first time since the original Senators in 1933.
Johnson gave a cryptic answer when asked whether the short outing could prolong Strasburg's season.
"It might," Johnson said without elaborating.
Strasburg wouldn't comment on Johnson's curious answer.
"I'm going to focus on the next start," the pitcher said.
Johnson said Strasburg may be distracted by the shutdown talk.
"I can understand where he's at," he said. "And even in the conversations that I've had with him, he was having trouble sleeping, thinking about letting the guys down. So I understand his mood."
Jose Reyes tripled twice and drove in three runs for the Marlins, including a two-run triple in the 10th off Tyler Clippard (2-4) that made a winner of Chad Gaudin (3-1). Washington, which has the best record in the major leagues, lost for only the second time in 10 games.
Strasburg received a lengthy standing ovation from fans as he jogged out to the mound for what turned into a 23-pitch first inning.
Strasburg walked leadoff hitter Bryan Petersen , then got ahead of Reyes on an 0-2 count only to allow a single. Stanton singled down to third-base line to drive in a run, and Carlos Lee hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Zimmerman tied the score with a two-run homer off Jacob Turner in the bottom half, but Brantly homered with one out in the bottom half for a 3-2 lead.
Stanton hit his 31st homer in the third - only the fourth two-homer game against Strasburg this season - and Donovan Solano singled in a run for a 5-2 lead.
"Maybe we're not trying to do too much," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen about his team's recent success against one of the game's best pitchers. "We swing at strikes. We make him throw strikes the last couple of games because we're not chasing bad pitches."
Reyes tripled in a run off Zach Duke in the fourth.
"Tough game," Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "They put some good passes on the ball. There was nothing we could really do. It just felt like everything we threw up there they hit. Sometimes it goes like that."
Washington closed in the seventh on back-to-back RBI doubles by Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki off Carlos Zambrano , who didn't get an out, and a run-scoring error by second baseman Donovan Solano on pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi 's infield single. And Michael Morse tied the score 6-6 with an eighth-inning homer off A.J. Ramos.
Reyes' second triple and Lee's second sacrifice fly built a 9-6 lead in the 10th. Morse singled in a run in the bottom half off Steve Cishek , who got his 13th save in 17 chances by striking out pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth to end the game with the bases loaded.
NOTES: Turner, acquired with Brantly from Detroit on July 23, allowed two runs and six hits over six innings. ... In 18 career games at Nationals Park, Stanton is batting .394 with nine HR and 18 RBIs. ... Zimmerman, who also tripled, extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Before the game, Washington honored the organization's player and pitcher of the year. 3b Matt Skole had 27 homers and 92 RBIs for Class A Hagerstown. RHP Nathan Karns went 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 24 games. ... Miami's Mark Buehrle faces fellow LHP Ross Detwiler on Saturday.