Fly to left. Bryce Harper has it. Fly to center. Denard Span's there. Ground ball to short. Grounder. [Ian] Desmond. Out. Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg threw a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 first against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick's first career start against the NL Central franchise from Wisconsin. Span improved to 13 for 35 in the last 10 games with hits in nine of the last ten when he took an 0-1 fastball from Brewers' right-hander Wily Peralta to center for a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. Jayson Werth walked to put two on for Bryce Harper. Harper popped a 2-2 fastball up behind second for out no.1. Ryan Zimmerman grounded into what would have been a 6-4-3 inning-ending DP had Rickie Weeks' throw from second not pulled first baseman Juan Francisco off the bag. Adam LaRoche walked on Peralta's 22nd pitch of the the home-half of the frame, but Ian Desmond grounded out on a 2-0 fastball to leave the bases loaded at the end of a 25-pitch inning by Milwaukee's starter. 0-0 in D.C.
Aramis Ramirez K'd swinging at a 2-2 curve that hit a bird in front of the plate for out no.1 of the second and the fourth straight out to start the game for Stephen Strasburg. Juan Francisco walked with one down on Strasburg's 13th pitch of the inning, but Sean Halton popped out to the infield and Martin Maldonado was fooled by an 0-2 curve in the dirt. Called strike three. Two scoreless on 24 pitches by Strasburg after a 17-pitch second. Wily Peralta threw a diving 97 mph full-count fastball by Anthony Rendon to get a swinging K in the first at bat of the Nats' second. Kurt Suzuki lined a 1-1 fastball to third that went in and out of Aramis Ramirez's glove for what was ruled a hit. Strasburg bunted his catcher over/gave up an out, but Denard Span hit a soft liner to left that a sliding Sean Halton caught for out no.3 of the Nationals' second. 0-0 after two.
Jeff Bianchi lined out to first on the third pitch of the third inning. Stephen Strasburg dropped a cruel 0-2 curve on the opposing pitch for a called strike three, out no.2 and K no.3 in 2.2 IP, but Norichika Aoki beat out a soft grounder to short when he arrived at first ahead of a strong throw by Ian Desmond. Appeared to be out. Dan Iassogna disagreed. A force at second on a Logan Schafer grounder ended a 15-pitch frame with Strasburg at 39 total after three scoreless in D.C. Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper popped out to start the Nats' third, but Ryan Zimmerman reached on a two-out infield single to get Adam LaRoche to the plate. A 2-2 slider got LaRoche swinging to end Peralta's third scoreless frame.
Stephen Strasburg's 1-2 curve to Rickie Weeks was otherworldly, dropping out of the air at the last possible second to get a swinging strike three. The 97 mph fastball he threw to Aramis Ramirez in the second at bat of the fourth ended up in center field for a one-out single, making Dan Iassogna's missed call at first in the third a little easier to accept. Strasburg missed with four pitches to walk Juan Francisco for the second time tonight, but a nine-pitch battle with Sean Halton ended with a grounder to first that started an inning-ending 4-6-3. 19-pitch inning, 57 overall. Ian Desmond flew to right on the second pitch he saw. Anthony Rendon took a low 98 mph 0-2 heater for a called strike three. Kurt Suzuki grounded out to short to end a nine-pitch frame by Wily Peralta.
Brewers' catcher Martin Maldonado flew out to center on an 0-1 fastball from Stephen Strasburg. Jeff Bianchi rolled an 0-1 pitch out to Ryan Zimmerman. Two down. Wily Peralta K'd chasing a 1-2 bender. Eight-pitch frame for Strasburg, 65 total in five scoreless. Strasburg K'd swinging after battling for six pitches. Denard Span lined out to first. Jayson Werth took a 97 mph 0-2 heater for a called strike three. 14-pitch inning for Peralta. 75 overall after five by the Brewers' right-hander.
Norichika Aoki grounded out to second on the first pitch of the sixth. Logan Schafer took a 3-2 fastball up high for ball four and a one-out walk from Stephen Strasburg. Ryan Zimmerman dropped a sharp grounder to third from Rickie Weeks after backhanding it and starting the exchange. Strasburg went to a 3-1 count with Aramis Ramirez, and missed inside to issue a base-loading walk. Strasburg missed inside with 1-2 heater to Juan Francisco, but caught the outside corner with a backdoor bender that was called strike three for out no.2. Sean Halton fell behind 1-2 and K'd on a check-swing strike three when he couldn't lay off a 1-2 curve. Strike three swinging. 22-pitch inning, 87 overall.
Bryce Harper tried to bunt his way on, but was thrown out by Brewers' catcher Martin Maldonado. With a 2-2 count against Ryan Zimmerman, Wily Peralta reaggravated something that seemed to be bothering him earlier in the game and ended up exiting the game (with a hamstring issue) in favor of right-handed reliever John Axford. Axford took a while to warm up, but eventually retired Zimmerman on a groundout to third when he got loose. Adam LaRoche took a high 3-1 curve to walk with two down, but was thrown out trying to steal second on a 1-2 fastball to Ian Desmond. 2 for 3 in SB attempts this season for LaRoche. 0-0 after six innings in the nation's capital.
A 1-2 curve got Martin Maldonado swinging for K no.8 of the night for Stephen Strasburg, all eight with the curve. Jeff Bianchi popped out to short on a 2-2 curve for out no.2. Yunkiesky Betancourt got to a 2-2 count and sent a dribbler toward third that Kurt Suzuki just pocketed when he got to it. Two-out single for Betancourt, but Anthony Rendon dove for a grounder up the middle off Norichika Aoki's bat and tossed it from his stomach to Ian Desmond at second for the force. Seven scoreless for Strasburg on 105 pitches after an 18-pitch inning.
Anthony Rendon lined an 0-1 slider from right-hander Jim Henderson to center for a one-out single in the Nationals' seventh. Kurt Suzuki popped up to the infield for out no.2. Pinch hitter Chad Tracy came on to end Stephen Strasburg's night, but popped out to end the Nationals' seventh. Still 0-0.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 Ks, 105 P, 66 S, 7/3 GO/FO
Drew Storen gave up a leadoff single to right by Logan Schafer, who promptly stole second. Storen missed with a 3-1 slider inside to Rickie Weeks to put two runner on with no outs. Storen missed inside with a 2-2 slider to Aramis Ramirez to go to a full count, but popped the Brewers' third baseman up to short-center. Juan Francisco got a 1-1 fastball he liked and lined it to right for a two-run double and a 2-0 lead. Sean Halton flew to center for out no.2, but a Martin Maldonado fly to left pushed Bryce Harper back to the wall where he missed making the catch and allowed in a run. 3-0. Maldonado swiped third without so much as a look from Storen and when Ryan Zimmerman went to third to cover, Jeff Bianchi singled into the hole at third that was created. 4-0 Brewers after seven and a half.
Denard Span singled off Brewers' lefty Michael Gonzalez to center to start the Nats' eighth, but Jayson Werth flew out to center and Bryce Harper K'd swinging over a 2-2 slider for out no.2. Ryan Zimmerman took a 1-2 slider through short for a two-out single off Gonzalez, but Adam LaRoche grounded out to second to end the eighth. 0 for 5 with RISP on the night.
Ian Krol came on for the top of the ninth. Norichika Aoki tested Ryan Zimmerman's arm. Zimmerman's arm passed the test. Logan Schafer popped to Ian Desmond on the grass in center. Rickie Weeks... singled on a low liner that got by a diving Desmond at short, but Aramis Ramirez flew out to left to end the Brewers' ninth. Francisco Rodriguez came on in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to center by Ian Desmond. Kurt Suzuki K'd looking at a 2-2 change for out no.1. Pinch hitter Roger Bernadina K'd swinging over a 1-2 change that ended up in the dirt. Denard Span stepped in with two on and two out and fell behind 0-2 quickly and sent a weak pop to short to end the game. 4-0 Brewers final.
Nationals now 42-41