Nationals overcome Strasburg's early exit to beat Braves
ATLANTA (AP) — The Washington Nationals have renewed concerns about Stephen Strasburg's health after the right-hander couldn't remain in the game long enough to enjoy his teammates' offensive breakout.
Ryan Zimmerman and Juan Soto each hit a two-run homer and the Nationals overcame Strasburg's early exit to beat the Atlanta Braves 11-6 on Tuesday night, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Washington manager Dave Martinez said Strasburg, who was on the injured list from April 15 until May 21 with right shoulder inflammation, had tightness in his shoulder again. Strasburg will have an MRI on Wednesday.
“He’s frustrated but I want to make sure we do the right thing, for him and for us,” Martinez said.
Soto had three hits, drove in four runs and scored four times to lead Washington's 14-hit outburst. Zimmerman had two hits, but Strasburg's injury left a pall over the big offensive night.
“I know he’s frustrated,” Zimmerman said. “For us it’s frustrating, too, because we know what Stephen can be and we need this guy.”
The Nationals stopped their skid even though Strasburg lasted only 1 1/3 innings. He left the game after William Contreras' liner hit his left arm near his glove.
Strasburg picked up the ball and threw out Contreras at first base, but Martinez had seen enough.
“At that point I said, that’s not fair to him,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to see what’s going on."
Strasburg allowed one run on one hit and two walks while throwing only 30 pitches.
Ronald Acuña Jr. had three hits, including a two-run homer off Austin Voth (2-0) in the fifth. Those were the only runs allowed by Voth in three innings.
Soto's homer off Grant Dayton in the eighth cleared the wall in left-center. Soto appeared to mimic Acuña's stutter step near third base on his jog around the bases.
Soto also hit a two-run single off Max Fried (2-3) in a four-run fourth. After Fried left the game, Zimmerman hit Edgar Santana's first pitch over the wall in right-center for his sixth homer and a 6-1 lead.
Nationals third baseman Starlin Castro dropped Swanson's infield popup for an error in the seventh after Austin Riley's infield hit drove in Acuña, who doubled.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (illness) is scheduled to make a rehab start for Class A Wilmington on Thursday. Fedde will join the Nationals in Philadelphia on Friday. ... OF Victor Robles (right ankle sprain) returned to the lineup after being reinstated from the 10-day injured list Monday.
Braves: RHP Shane Greene gave up one hit in a scoreless inning in his third appearance for Triple-A Gwinnett. Greene's scheduled outing on Sunday was pushed back due to back discomfort. The 32-year-old Greene re-signed with Atlanta on May 9.
Strasburg’s first mound visit from Martinez and trainer Paul Lessard came after he opened the game by walking Acuña on four pitches. Acuña stole second and scored on Ozzie Albies’ double to left field.
Martinez said he became more alarmed when Strasburg, who enjoys hitting, attempted a bunt when no bunt sign was on with a runner in scoring position in the top of the second inning.
“He loves to swing the bat,” Martinez said. “That raised my concern a lot.”
STRUGGLES FOR FRIED
Fried, who threw three wild pitches, plunked Josh Harrison with a pitch in the fourth after giving up a single to Voth. Fried allowed five runs on six hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said the game “had a bad vibe from the get-go. ... We just couldn’t stop the bleeding or shut down an inning to give ourselves a chance."
Washington LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 4.91 ERA) will pitch on three days' rest against LHP Drew Smyly (2-3, 5.95) on Wednesday night. Martinez said Lester, who threw 74 pitches in four innings, allowing five hits and one run, in a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday, was “totally fine” with moving up in the rotation when Fedde was not yet available. “I told him just take us as long as he can go,” Martinez said.
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