Nationals support Stephen Strasburg, beat Rangers 9-2 in Nationals Park

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg plenty of run support in the series opener with the Texas Rangers in D.C. and improved to 35-4 their '09 no.1 overall pick's career when scoring more than 3 runs in his starts. 9-2 final in Nationals Park.

Nationals vs Senators Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg's two-out error in the second ended up costing the 25-year-old right-hander two runs in the series opener with the Texas Rangers. The Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick induced a weak grounder back to the mound off of Leonys Martin's bat, but couldn't make the play as he bobbled it while making his way toward first. The E:1 on Strasburg left runners on the corners with two down and a single to right by 20-year-old Rangers' second baseman Rougned Odor drove in the game's first run before an RBI single to left by the opposing pitcher, Colby Lewis, made it 2-0 Texas after an inning and a half in D.C.

The Nationals took the lead in the fourth when Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back one-out singles off Rangers' starter Colby Lewis and Ian Desmond hit a two-out, three-run home run out to center field in Nationals Park and over the GEICO sign on the outfield wall for a 3-2 Nats' lead. HR no.10 of 2014 for Desmond.

Denard Span singled to end an eight-pitch at bat in the bottom of the fifth. Span was on the move when Anthony Rendon grounded out to third in the next at bat and he kept running to third base, forcing Rangers' first baseman Mitch Moreland to throw across the infield. The error on Moreland's throw allowed Span to score and make it 4-2 after five in Nationals Park.

Wilson Ramos walked to start the Nationals' sixth and took second on a one-out single by Nate McLouth before scoring on a two-out, pinch-hit double to left by Tyler Moore, who made it 6-2 Nationals over the Rangers after six innings in D.C.

Ramos lined to right in the bottom of the seventh, and two runs scored on what was ruled a single when Alex Rios charged the liner and came up empty, allowing it to roll all the way to the track. 8-2 Nationals.

Denard Span singled for his third hit of the night and scored on a pop to short right-center by Jayson Werth that the Rangers couldn't catch.

That's how it ended. 9-2 Nationals.

4. Strasburg takes on Texas: Last time out in Pittsburgh's PNC Park, Stephen Strasburg held the Pirates to one run on four hits in six innings, but he couldn't protect a 2-1 lead. A seventh inning single by Russell Martin, a double by Starling Marte and an RBI sac fly by Jose Tabata tied things up, but Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams left Strasburg in to face Bucs' outfielder Josh Harrison after an intentional walk to Travis Snider, and Harrison singled to center to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead, which held up.

"'[He] pitched very well,'" Williams told reporters after the game. "'Of course, they got to him in that last inning but I want to give him a chance to get out of there with a tie game. He was still strong. He’s our ace, he’s deserves a chance to get out of it and it didn’t work out.'"

The offensive didn't help the situation either. It was the eighth start of 11 this season in which Sttrasburg received two runs or less of support while he was on the mound.

As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes before tonight's start, the Nationals are 34-4 in the '09 no.1 overall pick's career when he receives 3+ runs of support while he is on the mound.

After the loss to the Pirates, the 25-year-old starter was (3-4) on the year, with a 3.42 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 18 walks (2.37 BB/9) and 81 Ks (10.67 K/9) in 68 1/3 IP, over which he'd held opposing hitters to a .266/.321/.365 line.

At home in the nation's capital, Strasburg was (3-1) in six starts before tonight with a 2.35 ERA, 1.90 FIP, 10 walks (2.35 BB/9) and 48 Ks (11.27 K/9) in 38 1/3 IP in which visiting teams have posted a .243/.306/.306 line.

He was facing the Texas Rangers for the first time in his career tonight.

1st: Shin-Soo Choo grounded out to first on the first pitch of the game. Elvis Andrus took a front door 1-2 curve for a called strike three. Rangers' first baseman Mitch Moreland stepped in with two down and went down swinging at a 2-2 change that ended a 10-pitch frame by Stephen Strasburg. 0-0 after a half.

2nd: Adrian Beltre hit a 95 mph first-pitch fastball off the wall in center field for a leadoff double. A 93 mph 0-2 fastball got Alex Rios swinging for out no.1 of the 2nd and Strasburg's 3rd K. Rangers' catcher Chris Gimenez went down swinging at a diving 87 mph 1-2 change. Out no.2, K no.3. Leonys Martin grounded back to the mound, where Strasburg bobbled the ball and was unable to make a play. Rougned Odor, a 20-year-old rookie who signed as an international free agent in 2011, stepped in with two on and two out and singled through the right side of the infield for an RBI hit and a 1-0 lead. Colby Lewis helped his own cause with an RBI single to left that brought Martin in and it was 2-0 Rangers when Shin-Soo Choo flew out to center to end a 19-pitch second inning. 29 total for Strasburg after two.

3rd: Elvis Andrus walked to start the Rangers' third, but was forced out at second on a grounder to Danny Espinosa off Mitch Moreland's bat. Adrian Beltre popped out to center on an 0-1 curve. Alex Rios rolled one weakly out to second for out no.3 and Strasburg was up to 41 pitches overall after a 12-pitch frame.

4th: Chris Gimenez doubled to right and off the out-of-town scoreboard on a 96 mph 2-1 fastball. Leonys Martin flew to center for an unproductive out no.1. Rougned Odor lined to left for out no.2. Colby Lewis went down swinging for out no.3 and Strasburg's 5th K. 17-pitch frame, 58 overall after four.

5th: Shin-Soo Choo K'd swinging at a 1-2 change for out no.1 in the fifth and K no.6 for Strasburg. Elvis Andrus lined to short where Danny Espinosa dropped it and recovered for out no.2. Mitch Moreland chased an 0-2 heater up in the zone for out no.3 and K no.7. 12-pitch frame. 70 total.

6th: Adrian Beltre singled to right on a 96 mph 0-2 fastball. Alex Rios went down swinging at an 80 mph 1-2 curve outside. K no.8. Chris Gimenez singled to left on a 3-1 fastball. Leonys Martin stepped in with runners on first and second and went down swinging at a 94 mph 1-2 two-seamer outside for out no.2 and K no.9. Rougned Odor stranded two runners when he popped out to Wilson Ramos to end an 18-pitch frame. 88 overall. 4-2 Nats.

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 88 P, 60 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

• Zim Rehab Appearance Pic:

3. Lewis vs Washington: Colby Lewis signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent in November of 2006, but he was released in March of 2007 before catching on with the Oakland A's. He was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals in November of '07, but released a month later. After playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 2008-2009, the right-hander returned to the majors with the Texas Rangers who originally drafted him in the 1st Round of the 1999 Draft.

In 88 starts since returning to the majors, the now-34-year-old starter is (36-32) with a 4.02 ERA, 150 walks (2.46 BB/9) and 495 Ks (8.12 K/9) in 548 2/3 IP, none of them against the Washington Nationals before tonight.

On the year, Lewis was (4-3) in eight starts before tonight's, with a 5.10 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 15 walks (3.19 BB/9) and 37 Ks (7.87 K/9) in 42 1/3 IP.

Lewis started his night with two scoreless innings in which he pitched around singles by Denard Span and Wilson Ramos. The veteran right-hander was up to 27 pitches when he took the mound in the third, and 36 when he completed a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

The Nationals threatened in the bottom of the fourth with Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hitting back-to-back, one-out singles, but Wilson Ramos K'd taking an 0-2 fastball inside, leaving it up to Ian Desmond... who hit a 1-0 fastball out to center and over the GEICO wall for a three-run blast that made it 3-2 Nats.

Denard Span battled Lewis for eight pitches in his leadoff at bat in the bottom of the fifth and singled to center on pitch no.8. Span was running from first when Anthony Rendon grounded out to third in the next at bat, and he kept running to third to force a throw by Mitch Moreland, whose throwing error on the attempt allowed the Nats' leadoff man to score. 4-2 Nationals after five. 79 pitches in five innings for Lewis.

Tyler Moore hit for Stephen Strasburg with two on and two out in the sixth and the Nats' slugger hit a line drive to left to bring both runners in on what ended up being Lewis's final pitch of the night. 6-2 Nationals.

2. History: The Texas Rangers returned to the nation's capital this weekend for just the second time since they were the Washington Senators. Since the Senators relocated to Arlington in 1971, leaving Washington behind, they came to D.C. just once before this weekend, when they took on the Nationals in the Inaugural season in Nationals Park in 2008, taking 2 of 3 games from June 20-22.

That was just the second series between the two teams after the Montreal Expos relocated to the District of Columbia in 2005. That season the Nats traveled to Texas and dropped two of three on the road.

The third series between the two franchises existing franchises to call D.C. home started with the Nationals winning their third game of seven, 9-2 final.

1. The Wrap-Up: Drew Storen took over on the mound in the top of the seventh inning and threw an 8-pitch, three-groundout, 1-2-3 frame. The Nationals added two runs in the bottom of the inning when Alex Rios misplayed a liner to right by Wilson Ramos, allowingn two runs to score. 8-2. Blake Treinen gave up two hits in the first two at bats of the Rangers' eighth, but got a double play grounder and a fly to right to end a 10-pitch frame.

Denard Span singled in the bottom of the eighth and scored on a pop to right-center by Jayson Werth that the Rangers couldn't catch. 9-2 Nationals.

Treinen came back out for the ninth and retired the side in order. 9-2 final.

Nationals now 26-27

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