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L.A. Dodgers (69-72) «0000030227131
Washington (65-75)030000000370

Dodgers spoil Strasburg's sharp return, rally past Nats

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg's lost year appeared to evaporate from the moment he started his walk from the bullpen. The crowd again gave him a standing ovation, all the way to the dugout. Washington Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty again joked he was the "Steve" the fans had come to see.

The radar gun again registered in the high 90s. The 90 mph changeup remained almost unhittable. The main man himself downplayed his accomplishments, as he always does, while his manager, teammates and opponents exhausted their supply of superlatives.

In his first major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, the 2011 edition of Strasburg was every bit as impressive as the 2010 version that wowed the baseball world. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed two hits over five shutout innings before the bullpen blew the lead in the Nationals' 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"He was outstanding. He looked totally relaxed, totally in control," manager Davey Johnson said. "He had all his pitches working. He made it look easy. Real low pitch count. Looked strong at the end. ... It was just like he hadn't been out."

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Last year's magical days of "Strasmus" came to an abrupt end when the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick felt his elbow pop on Aug. 21 in Philadelphia, and his long road back began when he had the now-familiar, career-saving ligament replacement surgery last Sept. 3. He wound his way through six minor league rehab starts with four teams in four states over the last month, culminating with a return to the majors that was easily the most anticipated event of the season for a Nationals club trying to avoid a fourth consecutive last-place NL East finish.

Daylong rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee threatened to postpone the game, but, when it came time to play, the weather put itself on hold for the pitcher wearing jersey No. 37 and those gotta-love-'em traditional high red knee-socks.

His workload carefully monitored, Strasburg threw 56 pitches, 40 for strikes. The fastball peaked at 99 mph. He struck out four, didn't walk a batter, and a string of 11 retired in a row ended when Juan Rivera was generously given a hit for a ground ball that went under shortstop Ian Desmond's glove.

"The game seemed it was in slow motion out there," Strasburg said. "From what it felt like in the debut last year, I felt I'd kind of been through it before, so I was definitely a lot more relaxed out there, really focusing on just trying to execute pitches and get guys out."

Strasburg emphasized again he is much stronger than before, having spent his year conditioning the rest of his body. He's expected to get three more starts this season, but he doesn't expect the full payoff to come until 2012.

"It's not like I was waiting 368 days for this time," he said. "I'm still on a mission here. I wanted to get stronger, mentally and physically, through this process. I had something that I wanted to work on every single day. I didn't waste a minute waiting for this time to come, because I knew it was going to come sooner or later."

Strasburg was set to get the win when he departed with a 3-0 lead, but Dodgers tied it in the sixth. Then even the weather gave up on the game, at least temporarily, as the rain returned in the seventh to force a 31-minute delay and empty the ballpark of all but a hardy few.

Those that remained saw Rod Barajas' two-run double in the eighth inning off Henry Rodriguez (3-3) put the Dodgers ahead for good, giving Kenley Jansen (2-1) the win.

Strasburg even scored his first career run, part of a three-run second inning. He reached by laying down a sacrifice that turned into a two-base throwing error. Strasburg wound up at second on the play, went to third on Desmond's single and came home on Jayson Werth's groundout.

Of course, there was no way Strasburg could match his major league debut, when he struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates on June 8, 2010. He finished 5-3 as a rookie, with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts.

Only a few thousand fans were in the stands when Strasburg started tossing in the outfield at 6:44 p.m., and there were dozens -- instead of hundreds -- peering over the railing when he entered the bullpen to start his warmups. More filtered in as the game went along, but Nationals Park was never more than half-full despite the announced attendance of 29,092 - well short of the expected sellout.

The game started five minutes late, and Strasburg's first pitch was a 96 mph fastball that was fouled away by Dee Gordon. On a 2-1 pitch -- clocking 97 mph -- Gordon punched the ball to left-center and legged out a double. He was left stranded when Strasburg retired the next three batters.

Strasburg started cruising in the second, striking out Andre Ethier with a 90 mph changeup and Aaron Miles with a 99 mph fastball. He worked fast -- just as he did as a rookie - barely pausing between pitches and making everyone else look like slowpokes by comparison.

Sensing Strasburg's night was nearly done, the crowd was on its feet with two outs in the fifth. Strasburg rewarded them by getting Justin Sellers to foul out to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on a 97 mph fastball. Strasburg then headed toward the dugout, where he was greeted on the top step with a handshake from Johnson.

"He's someone that the Nationals should probably trade to us if they knew what was best for us," Dodgers starter Ted Lily said with a laugh. "Maybe things will work for him over here."

Notes

  • Strasburg was activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game. The Nationals also recalled RHPs Yunesky Maya and Craig Stammen, LHP Atahualpa Severino and OF Corey Brown from Triple-A Syracuse, and purchased the contracts of RHP Brad Peacock and INF Steve Lombardozzi from Syracuse. Peacock, Severino, Lombardozzi and Brown made their major league debuts.
  • Washington moved RHP Cole Kimball (right shoulder) to the 60-day DL, released RHP Adam Carr and designated RHP Garrett Mock for assignment.
  • The Dodgers recalled C Tim Federowicz, RHP John Ely and INF-OF Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque.
  • Los Angeles 3B Casey Blake underwent season-ending surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his neck.
  • RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-3) will start for Washington on Wednesday against LHP Dana Eveland (1-0). Eveland is 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in two games against Washington.
  • Ramos has a 10-game hitting streak.
  • Washington 2B Danny Espinosa struck out his first three times at the plate to give him seven Ks in a row, the longest streak by Nationals player since baseball returned to the nation's capital, according to STATS LLC.
 
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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Stephen Strasburg throws 40 of his 56 pitches for strikes, and whiffs four Dodgers in five innings of shutout ball. (AP)
Stephen Strasburg throws 40 of his 56 pitches for strikes, and whiffs four Dodgers in five innings of shutout ball. (AP)

Players of the Game
Los Angeles

A. Ethier
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 4
Los Angeles

M. Kemp
AB 4
R 2
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Los Angeles Dodgers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Dee Gordon, SS5130000 .277
James Loney, 1B5110024 .277
Matt Kemp, CF4211111 .319
Juan Rivera, LF3020101 .259
    Tony Gwynn Jr., PR-LF0000100 .255
Andre Ethier, RF5124021 .292
Aaron Miles, 3B4120010 .284
Rod Barajas, C4012001 .236
Justin Sellers, 2B4000001 .238
Ted Lilly, P1000000 .082
   a- Jamey Carroll, PH1110000 .289
    Matt Guerrier, P0000000 .000
    Hong-Chih Kuo, P0000000 .000
   b- Trent Oeltjen, PH1000000 .224
    Kenley Jansen, P0000000 .000
    Mike MacDougal, P0000000 .000
   c- Eugenio Velez, PH1000000 .000
    Javy Guerra, P0000000 .000
Totals38713736  
a-singled for Lilly in the 6th
b-flied out for Kuo in the 7th
c-grounded out for MacDougal in the 9th
Batting
2B - Dee Gordon (6, Strasburg), James Loney (23, Maya), Andre Ethier (30, Maya), Rod Barajas (11, Rodriguez)
RBI - Matt Kemp (107), Andre Ethier 4 (62), Rod Barajas 2 (43)
2-OUT RBI - Andre Ethier 2 (24), Rod Barajas 2 (18)
SB - Dee Gordon (16, 2nd base off Severino/Ramos), Tony Gwynn Jr. (20, 2nd base off Rodriguez/Ramos)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Ted Lilly (2, Throwing)
Los Angeles Dodgers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ted Lilly 5432390 4.37
Matt Guerrier 0.2100020 3.67
Hong-Chih Kuo 0.1000010 9.14
Kenley Jansen (W,2-1) 1000030 3.30
Mike MacDougal (H,12) 1000100 1.92
Javy Guerra 1200120 2.15
HBP - Werth (by Kenley Jansen)
WP - Mike MacDougal (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 105-74, Matt Guerrier 12-8, Hong-Chih Kuo 5-4, Kenley Jansen 16-11, Mike MacDougal 16-8, Javy Guerra 26-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 3-4, Mike MacDougal 2-1
Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 23, Matt Guerrier 3, Hong-Chih Kuo 1, Kenley Jansen 4, Mike MacDougal 4, Javy Guerra 6
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ian Desmond, SS4010120 .244
Jayson Werth, CF3001113 .229
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5020032 .291
Michael Morse, LF5000047 .311
Jonny Gomes, RF2000110 .208
    Brad Peacock, P0000000 .000
    Atahualpa Severino, P0000000 .000
    Henry Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
   a- Stephen Lombardozzi, PH0000100 .000
    Yunesky Maya, P0000000 .000
   b- Corey Brown, PH1000003 .000
Danny Espinosa, 2B4000034 .229
Chris Marrero, 1B4120001 .306
Wilson Ramos, C3111112 .261
Stephen Strasburg, P1100011 .000
    Doug Slaten, P0000000 .000
    Rick Ankiel, RF2010011 .244
Totals34372517  
a-walked for Rodriguez in the 8th
b-flied out for Maya in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chris Marrero (1, Lilly), Wilson Ramos (21, Lilly)
SH - Stephen Strasburg (1)
RBI - Jayson Werth (53), Wilson Ramos (43)
SB - Ian Desmond (22, 3rd base off Lilly/Barajas)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Rick Ankiel 1
DP - Desmond-Espinosa-Marrero
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg 5200040 0.00
Doug Slaten (H,3) 0.1222010 3.29
Brad Peacock (BS,1) 1.1411100 6.75
Atahualpa Severino 0.1000010 0.00
Henry Rodriguez (L,3-3) 1322000 3.92
Yunesky Maya 1222200 5.88
IBB - Kemp by Yunesky Maya
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 56-40, Doug Slaten 15-12, Brad Peacock 38-23, Atahualpa Severino 8-5, Henry Rodriguez 20-11, Yunesky Maya 17-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 4-7, Brad Peacock 2-1, Henry Rodriguez 1-2, Yunesky Maya 2-0
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 17, Doug Slaten 3, Brad Peacock 8, Atahualpa Severino 1, Henry Rodriguez 6, Yunesky Maya 6
Game Information
Attendance - 29092
Game Time - 3:35
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Bill Miller