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Washington at Cincinnati

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Washington (41-54) «000124001890
Cincinnati (53-43)0010021105101

Nationals ace Strasburg prevails in tough test against Reds

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Stephen Strasburg sweated one out.

Washington's hard-throwing rookie contained the NL's top offense on its own turf Wednesday night, and a slumping Nationals offense finally came around behind Cristian Guzman's homer, pulling away to an 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on a muggy evening.

A day after his 22nd birthday, Strasburg (5-2) pitched beyond his years again, passing one of his toughest tests.

"Cincinnati is first in the league in hitting," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "This is a good park to hit in. He has to be very proud of that effort."

The Reds lead the league in batting average, hits and RBI. They can manhandle pitchers at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park, where even a tiny mistake often ends up in the seats.

Strasburg felt he got away with a few mistakes, describing his performance as "just OK." One of his biggest challenges was handling the humidity, which quickly left him soaked. His jersey kept coming unbuttoned after those 98 mph fastballs.

"I was trying to keep my shirt on, basically," he said. "It was weighed down with a lot of sweat, and it kept coming open. It's just like there were five extra pounds of sweat on it."

It seemed like the Reds' bats were weighed down. They had trouble locking onto Strasburg's pitches, which varied from 81 mph to 99 mph.

"I saw a lot of good things out of him," said Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the rookie. "He throws his curve for strikes. His 100 mph [fastball] might be his third-best pitch. I don't want to face him every day."

Strasburg struck out seven and gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, outdueling the Reds' top pitcher.

Bronson Arroyo (10-5) had allowed only three runs in his last three starts, winning them all. Registering more typical numbers on the radar gun -- 69 to 89 mph -- Arroyo couldn't keep up with Strasburg. Guzman's two-run homer put the Nationals up 3-1 in the fifth, and Nyjer Morgan added a two-run single for a 7-1 lead.

Arroyo went 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs, six hits and three walks. He also struck out twice against Strasburg.

"I saw his fastball OK," Arroyo said. "His breaking ball was big. He looked like he was throwing that 96 mph to 98 mph."

All-Star closer Matt Capps got the last four outs in front of a capacity crowd for his 24th save.

Wherever he goes, Strasburg draws a crowd.

The Reds sold out his Cincinnati debut, the first time in four years they had a capacity crowd for a weeknight game. In 2006, they had to give away half-price tickets and $1 hot dogs to pack the house for a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

This time, it was as easy as picking up the phone. Reds manager Dusty Baker had to function like a ticket broker for Strasburg's appearance, getting seats for his acquaintances.

"Everybody in the world is calling for tickets," Baker said before the game.

Even the all-time hits king showed up to get a peak. Pete Rose took in a few innings from the third row behind home plate, attending his second straight game in his hometown. This one had an unmistakable energy to it.

There was a buzz in the stands when Strasburg warmed up and started pumping 98 mph fastballs into Ivan Rodriguez's well-padded mitt. The Reds hoped to get to him early -- the rookie sometimes has problems getting going -- but that plan shattered like a broken bat.

No. 2 batter Orlando Cabrera hit the ground when Strasburg threw an 81 mph breaking ball up and in. He then lined out, breaking his bat on contact.

On second glance, the Reds did a little better.

Brandon Phillips tripled to center in the third inning, and Cabrera lined a single to left on an 80 mph breaking ball for a 1-0 lead. The Reds did better at fouling off good pitches to extend at-bats -- Strasburg needed 48 pitches to get through the first three innings.

By the time the Reds got to him again, the Nationals had taken control. Miguel Cairo's two-out, two-run single in the sixth cut it to 7-3 and ended Strasburg's outing at 97 pitches. He received a mixture of applause and boos as he left the mound.

Notes

  • Riggleman said RHP Luis Atilano had a sore arm after his outing on Tuesday night, jeopardizing his next start.
  • Reds RHP Homer Bailey threw a simulated game without a problem. He'll start a rehab assignment on Monday. Bailey has been on the DL since May 24 with an inflamed pitching shoulder.
  • The Reds expect to activate C Ramon Hernandez off the DL on Wednesday and start him at 1B, giving Joey Votto a day off. Hernandez has been on the DL since July 9 with a sore left knee.
  • Home run fireworks incorrectly went off after Ryan Hanigan's fly ball went barely foul in the eighth.
 
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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Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg whiffs seven and gives up three runs on seven hits for his fifth win. (AP)
Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg whiffs seven and gives up three runs on seven hits for his fifth win. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

C. Guzman
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Cincinnati

M. Cairo
AB 2
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Nyjer Morgan, CF4012101 .256
Cristian Guzman, 2B5122022 .296
Adam Dunn, 1B4100111 .279
    Adam Kennedy, 1B0000000 .243
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5120001 .297
Josh Willingham, LF3100102 .272
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Clippard, P00000001.000
    Alberto Gonzalez, SS0000000 .295
Roger Bernadina, RF3121000 .280
Ivan Rodriguez, C4000005 .275
Ian Desmond, SS3212010 .254
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Stephen Strasburg, P1000000 .067
    Drew Storen, P0000000 .500
    Willie Harris, LF1111000 .186
Totals3389834  
Batting
2B - Ryan Zimmerman 2 (21, Arroyo, Arroyo)
HR - Cristian Guzman (2, Arroyo), Willie Harris (5, Rhodes)
SF - Roger Bernadina (2)
SH - Stephen Strasburg 2 (2)
RBI - Nyjer Morgan 2 (18), Cristian Guzman 2 (25), Roger Bernadina (25), Ian Desmond 2 (39), Willie Harris (20)
2-OUT RBI - Nyjer Morgan 2 (9), Cristian Guzman 2 (10)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Roger Bernadina 1
DP - Bernadina-Rodriguez
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg (W,5-2) 5.2733170 2.32
Drew Storen 0.2211120 2.54
Sean Burnett (H,12) 0.1000000 2.53
Tyler Clippard (H,18) 1011210 3.18
Matt Capps (S,24) 1.1100120 2.93
WP - Stephen Strasburg (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 97-63, Drew Storen 24-16, Sean Burnett 5-3, Tyler Clippard 19-9, Matt Capps 17-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 3-6, Sean Burnett 1-0, Tyler Clippard 1-1, Matt Capps 1-1
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 24, Drew Storen 5, Sean Burnett 1, Tyler Clippard 5, Matt Capps 6
Cincinnati Reds
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brandon Phillips, 2B4110112 .291
Orlando Cabrera, SS4011113 .249
Joey Votto, 1B5111022 .305
Jonny Gomes, LF5000034 .278
Jay Bruce, RF5120011 .259
Miguel Cairo, 3B2022200 .309
Drew Stubbs, CF4100025 .248
Ryan Hanigan, C3110100 .315
Bronson Arroyo, P2000020 .190
    Bill Bray, P0000000 .000
    Jordan Smith, P0000000 .000
   a- Laynce Nix, PH1010000 .239
    Logan Ondrusek, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Heisey, PH1011000 .288
    Arthur Rhodes, P0000000 .000
Totals365105512  
a-singled for Smith in the 7th
b-singled for Ondrusek in the 8th
Batting
3B - Brandon Phillips (3, Strasburg)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera (35), Joey Votto (64), Miguel Cairo 2 (17), Chris Heisey (8)
2-OUT RBI - Orlando Cabrera (13), Miguel Cairo 2 (8), Chris Heisey (1)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
E - Bill Bray (1, Throwing)
Cincinnati Reds
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Bronson Arroyo (L,10-5) 5.2677311 4.26
Bill Bray 0.2100010 6.14
Jordan Smith 0.2000000 3.45
Logan Ondrusek 1000010 3.90
Arthur Rhodes 1211011 1.63
HBP - Desmond (by Bronson Arroyo)
Pitches-Strikes - Bronson Arroyo 97-64, Bill Bray 9-6, Jordan Smith 10-8, Logan Ondrusek 10-7, Arthur Rhodes 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bronson Arroyo 7-9, Bill Bray 1-0, Arthur Rhodes 1-1
Batters Faced - Bronson Arroyo 27, Bill Bray 3, Jordan Smith 2, Logan Ondrusek 3, Arthur Rhodes 5
Game Information
Attendance - 37868
Game Time - 3:36
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Gary Cederstrom, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Marty Foster