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Strasburg silences Marlins to pick up fourth victory

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- Stephen Strasburg froze in his follow-through, staring at the plate umpire when a call went against him.

The rookie angrily snatched return throws from his catcher, stomped on the mound and hitched his shoulders as though out of sorts, which he was.

The Washington Nationals' young phenom hardly looked phenomenal in the early going Friday night, but he settled down to help beat the Florida Marlins 4-0.

Strasburg (4-2) needed 34 pitches in the opening inning. He allowed two baserunners in each of the first three innings, walking three and throwing the first wild pitch of his career. But he finished with seven strikeouts in six innings and lowered his ERA to 2.03.

"You're not going to go out there and feel perfect every single time," Strasburg said. "What separates the really good pitchers from the average ones is their ability to figure it out on the fly and make adjustments without really giving up too many runs. I was able to do that tonight."

Facing Florida for the first time in his eighth major league start, Strasburg was locked in a scoreless duel with Ricky Nolasco (9-7) until Josh Willingham hit a three-run double in the sixth.

Matt Capps, taking the mound for the first time since he was the winning pitcher in Tuesday night's All-Star game, pitched a hitless ninth to complete a four-hitter. The shutout was the third this year for the Nationals, thanks in part to Strasburg's first scoreless outing.

"As Stephen has done, he just got tougher and tougher as the game went along," manager Jim Riggleman said.

Pitching for the first time in a week because of the All-Star break, Strasburg battled rustiness as he walked two in the first inning, including Gaby Sanchez on 12 pitches. Pitching coach Steve McCatty paid a visit to the mound, and Jorge Cantu's flyout ended the threat.

Two singles and a sacrifice put Marlins at second and third with two outs in the second, but Strasburg got Chris Coghlan to ground out. A walk and a single in the third for Florida were sandwiched around a caught stealing.

"He was one hitter away from being out of the game, but that two-out RBI never came," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "You have to give him credit. He pitched out of tough situations."

Strasburg's command of his breaking ball improved as the game progressed. He threw only a couple of changeups and fed the Marlins a steady diet of fastballs in the upper 90s (mph).

"They didn't prove that they could hit my fastball, so I wasn't going to throw any changeups to possibly make a mistake," he said.

Strasburg retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced before departing after throwing 99 pitches.

"What's so impressive about him is his mental makeup," Florida's Dan Uggla said. "He knows how to pitch. He throws strikes and he commands all his pitches. For a kid as young as he is and has the ability he does, that's the biggest difference between him and a lot of other kids out there."

Strasburg had the best of it in his first showdown with another heralded rookie, Mike Stanton. Florida's 20-year-old right fielder went 0 for 2 against the 21-year-old Strasburg.

The Marlins began a 10-game homestand that will determine whether they're buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and they were plagued by a familiar problem: situational hitting. They went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

Rodriguez said he drew up eight to 10 potential lineups before deciding on only a modest tweak to start the second half of the season. Uggla batted fourth for just the third time this season, and Cantu was dropped to fifth.

The shuffling didn't help: Florida was shut out for the fourth time.

Nolasco, bidding to win his fifth consecutive decision, allowed only four baserunners - all on singles - in the first five innings. But he retired just one batter in the sixth.

Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman started the inning with singles, and Adam Dunn walked to load the bases. Willingham followed with a double to end Nolasco's night, and Ivan Rodriguez's sacrifice fly made it 4-0.

Notes

  • LF Coghlan made a leaping catch to rob Ryan Zimmerman of an extra-base hit in the fourth.
  • Before the game, Edwin Rodriguez said the Marlins have underperformed. "We have the talent to have a way better record," he said.
  • Riggleman said he plans to platoon middle infielders Guzman, Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy during the second half of the season.
  • NL ERA leader Josh Johnson, who starts Saturday for Florida, has an ERA of 0.79 over his past 11 games.
 
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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Stephen Strasburg improves to 4-2 after striking out seven in six innings. (US Presswire)
Stephen Strasburg improves to 4-2 after striking out seven in six innings. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Washington

J. Willingham
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
Washington

S. Strasburg
IP 6.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 3
K 7
 
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Nyjer Morgan, CF4110001 .252
Cristian Guzman, 2B4110001 .294
    Drew Storen, P0000000 .500
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4010012 .294
Adam Dunn, 1B3120100 .291
    Adam Kennedy, 1B0000000 .242
Josh Willingham, LF4113023 .281
Ivan Rodriguez, C3001011 .292
Roger Bernadina, RF4000010 .276
Ian Desmond, SS4010020 .255
Stephen Strasburg, P2000021 .071
   a- Alberto Gonzalez, PH-2B1010000 .299
Totals3348419  
a-doubled for Strasburg in the 7th
Batting
2B - Josh Willingham (14, Nolasco), Alberto Gonzalez (5, Sanches)
SF - Ivan Rodriguez (3)
RBI - Josh Willingham 3 (49), Ivan Rodriguez (28)
SB - Nyjer Morgan (21, 3rd base off Nolasco/Paulino)
CS - Ian Desmond (3, 2nd base by Nolasco/Paulino)
Team LOB - 4
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg (W,4-2) 6400370 2.03
Drew Storen 2000110 2.28
Matt Capps 1000100 3.10
WP - Stephen Strasburg (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 99-63, Drew Storen 23-13, Matt Capps 16-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 7-3, Drew Storen 1-4, Matt Capps 1-2
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 24, Drew Storen 7, Matt Capps 4
Florida Marlins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Chris Coghlan, LF4000002 .265
Gaby Sanchez, 1B3000110 .299
Hanley Ramirez, SS2010211 .302
Dan Uggla, 2B3010112 .285
Jorge Cantu, 3B4000013 .257
Cody Ross, CF4010021 .281
Mike Stanton, RF3000101 .225
Ronny Paulino, C4010011 .282
Ricky Nolasco, P1000010 .121
    Brian Sanches, P0000000 .000
    Taylor Tankersley, P0000000 .000
    Jhan Marinez, P0000000 .000
   a- Mike Lamb, PH1000000 .189
    Burke Badenhop, P0000000 .000
Totals2904058  
a-flied out for Marinez in the 7th
Batting
SH - Ricky Nolasco (4)
CS - Hanley Ramirez (6, 2nd base by Strasburg/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Paulino-H. Ramirez
Florida Marlins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ricky Nolasco (L,9-7) 5.1744180 4.66
Brian Sanches 1100010 3.00
Taylor Tankersley 0.1000000 3.38
Jhan Marinez 0.1000000 0.00
Burke Badenhop 2000000 5.26
Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Nolasco 93-61, Brian Sanches 22-17, Taylor Tankersley 5-3, Jhan Marinez 2-1, Burke Badenhop 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Nolasco 4-3, Brian Sanches 1-1, Burke Badenhop 3-3
Batters Faced - Ricky Nolasco 23, Brian Sanches 4, Taylor Tankersley 1, Jhan Marinez 1, Burke Badenhop 6
Game Information
Attendance - 27037
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Brian Gorman, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Dan Bellino, Third Base - Tony Randazzo