The Nationals and Reds entered the rubber match today with what should have been an excellent pitcher’s duel between Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto. However, both pitchers struggled with a small strike zone and inconsistency and offense ruled the day. The Reds took advantage of troublesome first and sixth innings from Strasburg to score six runs and take the series with a 6-3 win over the Nats.
After throwing seven dominant innings against the Miami Marlins on Monday, Strasburg just could not get into a groove today. His woes started in the first, where after getting a Shin-Soo Choo flyout he gave up a single, a walk, a single, an RBI double and RBI groundout to put the Nats into an early 3-0 deficit.
The Nationals responded immediately though in the top of second as Kurt Suzuki continued the hot hitting from Nationals’ catchers by blasting a three-run home run into the left field stands. Despite threatening to score more after a Denard Span walk, his sixth of the season, and Jayson Werth single the Nats could not push another run across the plate.
Both starters then settled in for the most part. Cueto finished the sixth inning with 108 pitches, picking up a quality start. His final line of the day was: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB and 6 K, definitely not his best stuff, but enough to keep the Reds in the game.
Strasburg entered the sixth with 92 pitches and ran into trouble immediately giving up back-to-back singles to Derrick Robinson and Choo. An RBI groundout and RBI single later and Strasburg’s day was done having allowed 5 runs on nine hits and four walks with only five strikeouts. Another run would be tallied onto his record when Ryan Mattheus gave up an RBI single to Jay Bruce.
From there the Reds’ bullpen took over as Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman threw scoreless innings to shut the door on the Nats. A silver lining came in the form of the embattled Henry Rodriguez throwing a 1-2-3 eighth.
The Nationals dropped to 4-2 with the loss. They return to DC on Tuesday to play their first interleague series against the Chicago White Sox.