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Washington at Pittsburgh

Venue: PNC Park
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The Washington Nationals have been so protective of Stephen Strasburg since he entered the majors that even the potential of an injury creates a stir.

After the concern was alleviated earlier in the week, Strasburg seeks to end his five-start winless streak as Washington looks to avoid a third straight loss to the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

Since allowing three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win over Miami on opening day April 1, Strasburg (1-4, 3.13 ERA) has gone winless with a 3.86 ERA while throwing at least 110 pitches four times.

He walked four and gave up two runs in six innings of Washington's 3-2 loss to Atlanta on Monday, and manager Davey Johnson was concerned his ace was experiencing potentially serious arm trouble as he said Strasburg was shaking his arm between pitches more than normal.

The right-hander, though, knew right away there weren't any major problems.

"I'm not missing my next start. I'll tell you that right now," Strasburg said after the game.

General manager Mike Rizzo agreed.

"Stephen had some irritation on his forearm. He's healthy, happy and ready to pitch Saturday," Rizzo told the team's official website Tuesday. "He was seen by the team doctor here in the clubhouse and was given a clean bill of health."

That's good news for the Nationals (15-15), as Strasburg has been dominant in his two career outings versus Pittsburgh. He gave up two runs and four hits while striking out a career-high 14 in seven innings of a 5-2 victory in his first major league start June 8, 2010. He then finished with 13 strikeouts and allowed one earned run in six innings of a 4-2 win May 10.

Washington, though, has dropped four of six after falling 3-1 to the Pirates in Friday's series opener. Danny Espinosa had an RBI single but Ryan Zimmerman went 0 for 4 in his return to the lineup after missing 14 games with a strained left hamstring.

The Nationals have scored three runs or fewer in six straight games.

"I don't know if it's being aggressive early in the count or not, but I do feel we're trying too hard to make things happen," Johnson said. "Everyone just needs to relax a little bit."

Andrew McCutchen has been hitting much better lately for Pittsburgh (17-12), which improved to 16-7 since starting the season 1-5. McCutchen went 3 for 4 with a solo homer Friday and is 8 for 17 with two homers and four RBIs over his last four contests to bump his average up 41 points to .257.

The Pirates, who have taken five of the last seven meetings with the Nationals, will look to win a fifth straight home game as they send Jeff Locke to the mound.

Locke (3-1, 2.83) got off to a rocky start but has been stellar over his last two outings while extending his scoreless streak to 13 innings. He allowed two hits and struck out six in six innings of a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on April 23, then gave up three hits in seven innings of a 9-0 victory over St. Louis on Sunday.

"Locke pitched a great game (Sunday)," catcher Russell Martin told the team's official website. "Getting my pitcher putting up scoreless innings gets us in a place to win."

The left-hander, who had one victory in 10 career starts entering this season, has never faced the Nationals nor any hitter currently on their roster.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Stephen Strasburg, RHP
2013 stats
37.1 Innings Pitched 28.2
1-4 Wins-Losses 3-1
3.13 Earned Run Average 2.83
12 Walks 13
36 Strikeouts 16
103 Pitches Per Start 92
Career vs. opponent
13.0 Innings Pitched -
2-0 Wins-Losses ---
2.08 Earned Run Average -

Jeff Locke, LHP
Weather
weather image  Mostly sunny. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
73°F50°F11mph/SE27%2%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Washington1st NL East5042.543-6-4 W 1
Pittsburgh4th NL Central4945.5212 ½ 5-5 W 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jeff Locke
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Desmond000000
Detwiler000000
Duke000000
Espinosa000000
Gonzalez000000
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Stephen Strasburg
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Tabata32000.667
McKenry21001.500
McCutchen51012.200
Sanchez112013.182
Barmes300020
 

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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Washington -140 Pittsburgh 130
Injuries
Washington
PlayerInjury
J. KobernusHand
R. OhlendorfBack
E. PerezToe
J. ZimmermannBiceps
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
C. BarmesGroin
G. ColeLat
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 14CINPPD   
Apr 15CINPIT 8-7Morris LeCure 
Apr 15CINCIN 7-5Leake Cole 
Apr 16CINCIN 4-0Cueto Liriano 
Apr 21PITPIT 6-5Hughes Hoover 
Apr 22PITCIN 4-1Cueto Volquez 
Apr 23PITCIN 5-2Simon Morton 
Apr 24PITCIN 2-1Cingrani Cumpton 
Jun 17PITCIN 6-5Ondrusek Grilli 
Jun 18PITCIN 11-4Simon Volquez 
Jun 19PITPIT 4-3Wilson Cingrani 
Jul 11CINCIN 6-5Partch Watson 
Jul 12CINPIT 6-5Wilson Hoover 
Jul 13CIN 1:10 PM EDT  
Aug 29PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 30PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 31PIT 1:35 PM EDT  
Sep 26CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 27CIN 4:10 PM EDT  
Sep 28CIN 1:10 PM EDT