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Washington at Pittsburgh

Venue: PNC Park

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 2015 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 image  Mostly sunny. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Washington1st NL East5449.524-3-7 L 3
Pittsburgh2nd NL Central6143.5875 ½ 7-3 W 1
vs Jeff Locke
vs Stephen Strasburg

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Game Odds
Washington -140 Pittsburgh 130
D. CarpenterShouler
R. JohnsonFoot
N. McLouthShoulder
D. SpanBack
C. StammenForearm
S. StrasburgOblique
A. BurnettElbow
B. CumptonElbow
J. HarrisonThumb
C. HartShoulder
G. HernandezShoulder
A. LamboFoot
J. MercerLeg
R. ScahillForearm
J. SellersAchilles
Series Game Log
Apr 20PITCHC 5-2Arrieta Caminero 
Apr 21PITCHC 9-8Jackson Melancon 
Apr 22PITPIT 4-3Worley Hammel 
Apr 23PITPIT 5-4Liz Schlitter 
Apr 27CHCCHC 4-0Hammel Worley 
Apr 28CHCCHC 6-2Wood Locke 
Apr 29CHCPIT 8-1Cole Hendricks 
May 15CHCCHC 11-10Jackson Liz 
May 16CHCCHC 4-1Lester Cole 
May 17CHCPIT 3-0Burnett Arrieta 
Aug 3PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 4PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 5PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 15PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 16PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 17PIT12:35 PM EDT  
Sep 25CHC 2:20 PM EDT  
Sep 26CHC   
Sep 27CHC