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Nationals drop series opener to D-backs, 5-4: Stephen Strasburg struggles to keep the Diamondbacks down...

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Arizona’s Diamondbacks kept answering the Nationals’ rallies, and they took the series opener in Washington, D.C., 5-4 final.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona’s Diamondbacks kept striking back against Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg, scoring in the half-inning after Washington took leads in the third and fifth innings, and taking the series opener in D.C. by a final score of 5-4.

#Stretchburg: Stephen Strasburg took the mound tonight (2-2) with a 2.97 ERA, a 4.27 FIP, eight walks (2.16 BB/9), 36 Ks (9.72 K/9), and a .203/.263/.377 line against in five starts and 33 13 innings this season.

He was down 1-0 early, however, after giving up a solo home run to center on a 96 mph 0-2 fastball up in the zone that A.J. Pollock hit out to center field for his sixth HR of the season and the seventh off Strasburg in 35+ innings in 2018, after he gave up just two in 62 23 IP in the second half of 2017. 1-0 AZ.

Strasburg issued his ninth walk of the season in the next at bat, putting Daniel Descalso on, and Descalso took second on a groundout and scored on an RBI single to right field by Nick Ahmed, 2-0.

It was 3-2 in the fourth inning, when Strasburg took the mound again, and gave up a one-out single by Pollock on a 1-0 curve, and an RBI double by Descalso on an 0-1 fastball that the D-Backs’ infielder lined to left for a game-tying hit, 3-3.

Given a 4-3 lead to work with the bottom of the fifth, Strasburg came out for the sixth and gave up a single by Paul Goldschmidt and a game-tying RBI triple to right by Pollock, who hit a 3-1 fastball to right-center for his third hit of the game, 4-4, and scored on a sac fly to left by Descalso, 5-4 Arizona.

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 66 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

Godley in D.C.: In limited action in Nationals Park before tonight, D-Backs’ right-hander Zack Godley was (2-0) with a 0.00 ERA in three games, one a start, and 10 13 IP.

In four 2018 starts before tonight’s, the 28-year-old starter was (3-1) with a 3.09 ERA, 2.71 FIP, eight walks (3.09 BB/9), and 24 Ks (9.26 K/9). He brought his un-Godley curveball to the mound in the nation’s capital, against which opposing hitters were 7 for 40 (.175 AVG) so far in 2018.

Godley tossed two scoreless to start on 39 pitches, but a leadoff single by Trea Turner in the third was followed by a game-tying, two-run home run to left by Howie Kendrick, who hit an 0-2 cutter over the wall for his 3rd HR of 2018, 2-2.

Godley walked Bryce Harper in the next AB, and gave up a one-out single by Matt Adams that put runners on the corners in front of Matt Wieters, who grounded into a force, but avoided a double play by hustling to first to beat the throw, allowing Harper to score, 3-2 Nationals.

Stephen Strasburg, Trea Turner, and Howie Kendrick connected for back-to-back-to-back, one-out hits in the fourth, after the D-Backs rallied to tie it in the top of the frame, giving a big opportunity to Bryce Harper, who walked in each of his first two trips to the plate, but went down swinging at a 1-2 sinker. Ryan Zimmerman sent a weak grounder up the middle for out No. 3 in the next AB. #missedopportunities

Matt Adams singled, Matt Wieters walked, and Andrew Stevenson bunted his way on with no one out in the fifth, loading the bases for the second straight inning. Wilmer Difo hit a liner to center for a sac fly, 4-3, but that’s all the Nationals got out of their second bases-loaded opportunity in two innings.

Zack Godley’s Line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 67 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

Daily Bryce Harper Section: Nationals’ right fielder Bryce Harper’s 32 walks going into the series opener with the D-Backs were the most in the majors, and he’d been issued at least one walk in 10 of his last 11 games and reached base safely in all 11 games, posting a .490 OBP over that stretch.

Harper, 25, was also tied for first in the NL lead in home runs (8), and ranked second in runs scored (22), third in RBIs (tied, 19), third in OPS (1.045), and fourth in OBP (.460).

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the Nats’ three-city, nine-game road trip, however, he’d struggled, going going 5 for 27 (.185/.425/.296) with a home run, 12 walks, and five Ks on the trip through NY, LA, and San Francisco.

Back home in Washington tonight, Harper took his 33rd walk of the season in his first trip to the plate, with D-Backs’ starter Zack Godley putting him on after a one-out double by Howie Kendrick. Both runners were stranded two outs later.

Harper’s second walk of the night, and 34th of the season, came with the bases empty after Kendrick’s two-run blast in the third, and he went first-to-third one out later on Matt Adams’ single to right, and scored on a grounder to the right side by Matt Wieters, who hustled to first to avoid a double play, 3-2.

It was a 3-3 game in the fourth when Harper stepped in with the bases loaded and one out, and went down swinging at a 1-2 sinker outside.

Going up against Andrew Chafin in the sixth, Harper grounded out to first, 0 for 2, 2 BB, 1 K.

Harper got one last at bat in the bottom of the ninth, with the Nationals trailing, 5-4, and he lined out to right on the first pitch from Brad Boxberger. 0 for 3, 2 BB, 1 R.

BULLPEN ACTION: Andrew Chafin took over for the D-Backs in the bottom of the sixth, with a 5-4 lead, and worked around a two-out Ryan Zimmerman single.

Sammy Solis took over the Nationals with a runner on and one out after a throwing error by Wilmer Difo on a Chris Owings’ grounder, but Matt Wieters threw Owings out on an attempt to steal second, and a groundout ended the frame, still 5-4 AZ.

Yoshihisa Hirano got the ball in the bottom of the seventh, and struck out the side in a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

Solis and Ryan Madson combined for a scoreless top of the eighth, and Diamondbacks’ righty Archie Bradley retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

Sean Doolittle retired the side in order in an eight-pitch top of the ninth. Brad Boxberger got the ninth for the visitors, and set the Nationals down, 1-2-3. Ballgame.

Final Score: 5-4 D-backs

Nationals now 11-15