Nats 8, Reds 5

It wasn’t Stephen Strasburg’s best effort. Not even close. But an ace is an ace. And when the Nats needed their 22-year-old star rookie to put them in position to win, he did it. Strasburg went 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and a walk. But he also gave up just three runs to Cincinnati and left with his team ahead 7-3. Reliever Drew Storen got the final out of the sixth inning after Miguel Cairo smacked a two-run single to left field to knock Strasburg out of the game. It took some serious work from the rest of the bullpen to escape Great American Ballpark with a win. But in the end Strasburg’s lead held up and Washington (41-54) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Strasburg earned the win and is now 5-2 – though his ERA rose a bit to 2.32 in just his ninth big-league start. He struck out seven Reds batters. In all Strasburg now has 75 strikeouts and just 15 walks. That 5.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks eighth among all big-league starters. A triple and an RBI single in the third inning led to Cincinnati’s first run. It almost had another in the fourth when Roger Bernadina threw out Jay Bruce trying to score on a fly ball. Strasburg struck out two Reds batters in the fifth and two singles and a wild pitch set up Cairo’s RBI hit. Only Kansas City has posted more hits in one game off Strasburg than the Reds’ seven on Wednesday night.

But he was good enough. And Washington’s offense – terrible early in this road trip – has come to life with 15 runs combined the last two nights. Bernadina had a sacrifice fly to score Adam Dunn in the fourth. Cristian Guzman hit a two-run homer in the fifth. And Ian Desmond and Nyjer Morgan each singled home two runners in the sixth. Willie Harris then provide an extra insurance run with a solo homer in the ninth. The Nats needed it after Cincinnati scored four times off the bullpen to at one point cut a 7-1 lead to 7-5. Matt Capps was the fifth and final pitcher used by Washington to end a grueling 3 hour, 36 minute contest. Capps allowed an inherited runner to score, but did retire four of the final five Reds batters he faced to end the game and earn his 24th save.

Nats notes

» Luis Atilano has a sore arm and will not make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Brewers, manager Jim Riggleman told MASN after Wednesday’s victory. That comes as little surprise after Atilano struggled in a minor-league start at Triple-A Syracuse over the All-Star break and again on Tuesday night in a loss at Cincinnati. No word yet on who will take his place in the rotation. Matt Chico, John Lannan and Shairon Martis are the best bets to take Atilano’s place.

» Meanwhile, two rehabbing pitchers had near perfect outings on Wednesday night. Jordan Zimmermann went four innings and allowed just two hits and no runs for Single-A Potomac. Less than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, he has yet to allow a run in 13 innings.

» At Double-A Harrisburg, Ross Detwiler pitched seven shutout innings with one walk and five hits allowed. That lowered his ERA to 2.48 at Harrisburg in seven starts. He also pitched three shutout innings at Potomac to begin a rehab assignment. Hip surgery in January wiped out half of Detwiler’s 2010 season. He has walked just eight batters in his combined eight starts. But it still might be too tight a timeline to come back and pitch Sunday. 

» Ryan Zimmerman was 2-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored on Wednesday. For the season he has 21 doubles and 17 homers with a .529 slugging percentage. Zimmerman's OPS is .916 and his on-base average is .387. He is now batting .297.

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