Milwaukee at Washington

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Milwaukee (33-49) «000000040480
Washington (42-41)000000000081

Bullpen spoils Strasburg's gem, Brewers top Nationals

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg had hitters flailing at curveballs for seven scoreless innings. The pitch got him all eight of his strikeouts. One batter even had his helmet fly off while trying to chase a low-and-away bender.

It was another gem of a performance gone to waste for the Washington Nationals ace. Strasburg said afterward he no longer wanted to hear about the lack of run support, but the only people who can stop the talk are his own teammates, who failed him again Tuesday night in a 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

"You know, I'm tired of talking about that," he said. "These guys battle every single day, just like I do, and it just didn't work out for us tonight. But I'd like to get over that. I'd like to stop answering questions about run support."

Strasburg's ERA dropped to 2.24 and nearly overshadowed the game's actual outcome. He was done after seven innings and 105 pitches, and Juan Francisco's two-run double in the eighth started a scoring spree off Drew Storen (2-2) as the Brewers snapped a six-game losing streak.

"That's the first time I've really seen him live -- so explosive fastball, really ridiculous curveball," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, giving his Strasburg review. "You don't see too many curveballs like that."

The Nationals had scored 23 runs in their previous two games, but they've now been shut out nine times this season. To get an idea of the their lack of support for Strasburg, here is the running tally of earned runs he's allowed in his last nine starts: 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 0. His record during that stretch? Just 3-2.

"I think when a guy throws like that, he should be able to win," Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper said.

But he didn't. Francisco got the big hit off Storen and scored when Martin Maldonado hit a warning track fly ball that popped out of Harper's glove. It was ruled a double but Harper said simply: "I dropped it."

Maldonado then scored on Jeff Bianchi's groundball single that got through the infield only because Maldonado was trying to steal third with an absurd jump off Storen, who still hasn't figured out how to hold men on base.

"Fall behind these guys," Storen said, "give them something to hit and they're going to take care of it. ... I made mistakes not holding the runners and fell behind guys."

The earned runs were the first allowed by Storen in 10 appearances, and they made Jim Henderson (3-2) the winning pitcher. Brewers starter Wily Peralta had his own shutout in the making until he left during the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring. Henderson was one of four relievers who finished the eight-hitter.

Roenicke said he's hoping Peralta's tight hamstring was simply the result of a lack of fluid on a humid day.

"We're hoping in a couple days he'll be all right," Roenicke said.

The curve was Strasburg's go-to pitch Tuesday against a meager Brewers starting nine that has only 31 home runs combined. Amaris Ramirez's helmet went flying when he swung at a low-and-outside strike three in the second inning, and his juggling right-handed catch of his headgear was the only thing impressive about his at-bat.

Maldonado couldn't quite check his swing at a similar pitch to end the inning. In the third, Strasburg froze Peralta with a bender that hardly seemed fair to throw to an opposing pitcher. Rickie Weeks struck out going after a low-and-away curve in the fourth, and Peralta did the same in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, Strasburg got a called third strike on Francisco on a curveball that was maybe a bit outside, then got Sean Halton on the now-familiar low-and-away curve, with Halton unable to check the swing.

Strasburg allowed three hits. Two never left the infield, and one appeared to result from a bad call at first on a grounder to the hole by Norichika Aoki.

He was hardly facing the most imposing lineup in the majors. The Brewers started without shortstop Jean Segura and center fielder Carlos Gomez, who have 196 hits combined. Both have nagging injuries that need some rest, a thumb for Segura and a shoulder for Gomez. Also, team RBI leader Jonathan Lucroy didn't start because Maldonado usually catches Peralta.

It was a lineup that couldn't do much -- until Strasburg left the game.

"It was good," Weeks said, "to get him out of there."

Notes

  • Brewers OF Ryan Braun, on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right thumb, took some swings in the batting cage. "We're getting to the point where it's not pain-free, but a lot better than it was," Braun said. Roenicke said he's not expecting Braun to return until after the All-Star break.
  • The Nationals sent outright RHP Cole Kimball to Triple-A Syracuse.
  • The Nationals agreed to terms with seven international free agents: RHP Edwin Adames, C Jose Cabello, RHP Angel Guillen, LHP Jose Jimenez, OF Victor Robles, OF Dany Rojas and C Edwin Trejos.
 
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Players of the Game
Milwaukee

J. Francisco
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
Washington

S. Strasburg
IP 7.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 4
K 8
 

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Milwaukee Brewers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Norichika Aoki, RF5010001 .285
Logan Schafer, CF-LF4110101 .207
Rickie Weeks, 2B4110110 .229
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010113 .277
Juan Francisco, 1B2112213 .235
Sean Halton, LF4000016 .286
Martin Maldonado, C4111021 .192
Jeff Bianchi, SS4011000 .253
Wily Peralta, P2000020 .179
    Yuniesky Betancourt, PH1010000 .205
    Jonathan Lucroy, PH1000001 .266
Totals3548458  
a-singled for Axford in the 7th
b-flied out for Henderson in the 8th
Batting
2B - Juan Francisco (4, Storen), Martin Maldonado (6, Storen)
RBI - Juan Francisco 2 (29), Martin Maldonado (15), Jeff Bianchi (7)
2-OUT RBI - Martin Maldonado (8), Jeff Bianchi (4)
SB - Logan Schafer (2, 2nd base off Storen/Suzuki)
Team LOB - 9
Milwaukee Brewers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Wily Peralta 5.1300250 5.27
John Axford 0.2000100 3.86
Jim Henderson (W,3-2) 1100000 2.05
Mike Gonzalez 1200010 3.30
Francisco Rodriguez 1200020 0.96
Pitches-Strikes - Wily Peralta 76-49, John Axford 18-9, Jim Henderson 13-9, Mike Gonzalez 19-14, Francisco Rodriguez 19-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wily Peralta 5-6, John Axford 1-0, Jim Henderson 1-2, Mike Gonzalez 1-1
Batters Faced - Wily Peralta 21, John Axford 2, Jim Henderson 4, Mike Gonzalez 5, Francisco Rodriguez 5
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF5020003 .265
Jayson Werth, RF3000111 .271
Bryce Harper, LF4000013 .278
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4020001 .280
Adam LaRoche, 1B2000213 .254
Ian Desmond, SS4010003 .275
Anthony Rendon, 2B4020020 .315
Kurt Suzuki, C4010013 .222
Stephen Strasburg, P1000010 .143
    Chad Tracy, PH1000001 .143
    Roger Bernadina, PH1000012 .185
Totals3308038  
a-popped out for Strasburg in the 7th
b-struck out for Krol in the 9th
Batting
SH - Stephen Strasburg (4)
CS - Adam LaRoche (1, 2nd base by Axford/Maldonado)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Rendon-Desmond-LaRoche
E - Ryan Zimmerman (14, Throwing)
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Stephen Strasburg 7300480 2.24
Drew Storen (L,2-2) 1444100 4.76
Ian Krol 1100000 1.42
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 105-66, Drew Storen 28-17, Ian Krol 16-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 7-6, Ian Krol 1-2
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 28, Drew Storen 8, Ian Krol 4
Game Information
Attendance - 24897
Game Time - 3:23
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Brian Knight, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - Mark Carlson