Stephen Strasburg retired the first nine and last nine batters he faced tonight, holding the Chicago Cubs to two runs (one of them earned) on four hits in a 93-pitch, eight-inning outing, striking out seven and inducing 12 ground ball outs from 26 batters he faced in what ended up a 5-2 win for the Washington Nationals.
Strasburg vs the Cubs: Stephen Strasburg took the mound against the Cubs coming off back-to-back 6-0 losses in which he, obviously, received no support, and gave up 10 hits, four walks, and six earned runs in 12 2⁄3 IP (4.26 ERA).
Those outings left the Nationals’ 30-year-old right-hander (3-3) after nine starts with a 3.63 ERA, 16 walks, 75 Ks, and a .211/.269/.344 line against in 56 IP on the season.
Strasburg retired the first nine batters he faced in order tonight, striking out three on just 35 pitches, and he took the mound in the top of the fourth with a 4-0 lead.
You can pick your friends.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 19, 2019
You can pick your nose.
And Anthony Rendon can pick anything. pic.twitter.com/GuzGIatcVb
One and two-out singles, and two passed balls/cross-ups in three pitches moved both runners into scoring position, and allowed one run to score, before an out at home on the second passed ball ended the inning but left Strasburg frustrated and trying to sort things out with his catcher, Yan Gomes. 4-1 Nationals.
Strasburg came back out in the sixth and surrendered a solo home run on the first pitch he threw, a 94 MPH fastball to David Bote that ended up in the visitor’s bullpen in left field, 5-2 Nationals.
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh left Strasburg at 81 pitches overall, with six straight set down after Bote’s home run, and a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth left him 93 pitches with nine straight outs.
In spite of the relatively low pitch count, the Nationals went to Sean Doolittle in the ninth...
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 69 S, 12/2 GO/FO.
Lester vs the Nationals: In three starts this month before tonight, Cubs’ lefty Jon Lester was unbeaten (2-0) with Chicago 3-0 in his outings, over which only three unearned runs overall had scored, with the veteran hurler walking two and striking out 20 while holding opposing hitters to a combined .231/.250/.269 line.
The Nationals put up four earned runs on Lester in the first three innings, however, with Brian Dozier homering on a high 2-2 fastball to lead off the second before Howie Kendrick hit an RBI double to left in the third, and Juan Soto followed with a two-run double to right field to make it 4-0 early in the second game of the three-game set in D.C.
Lester was up to 73 pitches overall after three, and 87 after a scoreless fourth, but a leadoff double by Anthony Rendon and an RBI single by Soto ended his outing after 98 pitches in 4 1⁄3 IP, over which he gave up 10 hits and five earned runs, 5-1.
Jon Lester’s Line: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 61 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
Howie RISP: Howie Kendrick started the night leading the Nationals and tied for third in the NL with a .435 AVG (10 for 23) with runners in scoring position, and the veteran infielder added another hit with a runner in scoring position in the third (after flying out with a runner on second in the first). Kendrick doubled with runners on first and third to put the Nationals up 2-0 after a Brian Dozier homer gave them an early lead.
BULLPEN ACTION: Carl Edwards, Jr. took over for the Cubs with a runner on and one out in the bottom of the fifth and got two outs without allowing the inherited runner to score, 5-2 Nationals.
Tyler Chatwood got the ball in the bottom of the sixth inning and worked around a leadoff walk for a scoreless frame.
Chatwood worked around a two-out walk in a scoreless bottom of the seventh as well.
The Nationals loaded the bases with two out and Xavier Cedeño on the mound in the bottom of the eight, but Brad Brach struck Anthony Rendon out to end the threat.
Sean Doolittle came on for the Nats in the ninth, and after Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon made a show of complaining about the tap-step in Doo’s delivery, and filed an official protest, the closer shut it down. Ballgame. 5-2 Nationals.
Nationals now 19-26