Strasburg scattered three singles over six scoreless innings before Lorenzo Cain sliced a bases-loaded double down the right-field line to trigger a six-run seventh and lift the Brewers to a 6-0 victory over the Nationals on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
“Offensively, we couldn't get anything going,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But Strasburg was really, really good. If he continues to pitch like this, we're going to win a lot of games. Offensively, we couldn't score any runs today, but he had everything working today. He just gave up one unfortunate hit. He had a lot in the tank, so it was his game."
Rendon, who missed 14 games with a left elbow contusion, was 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch before being ejected in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes.
In the series opener Monday, Max Scherzer allowed one unearned run in six innings, striking out 10, but it was for naught as the Nationals committed four errors in a 5-3 loss. Washington is 2-17 when scoring three or fewer runs.
While Strasburg was holding the Brewers in check early, the Nationals could not get a timely hit, stranding nine runners through the first seven innings against Brewers pitchers Adrian Houser and Freddy Peralta.
“You can’t predict it, and these guys have pitched well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Scherzer and Strasburg threw two really good games. Really, this is about us pitching well on the other side and giving ourselves a chance in these games. Adrian and Freddy kind of matched Strasburg tonight, and that gave us a chance.”
The seventh inning unraveled when Strasburg hit Jesus Aguilar with a pitch with one out. Travis Shaw and Orlando Arcia followed with consecutive singles to load the bases. Cain then lined the first pitch to right for a bases-clearing double to put the Brewers up, 3-0.
Milwaukee added on against the Washington bullpen. Dan Jennings came on and intentionally walked Christian Yelich. Mike Moustakas singled home Cain to make it 4-0. Jennings walked Yasmani Grandal and Ben Gamel to force in a run.
Justin Miller relieved Jennings, and Aguilar lined an RBI single to left against him for a 6-0 lead.
“I think the one pitch that I could have done a better job of executing was the curveball to Shaw that he was able to stay inside and hit out there,” Strasburg said. “Other than that, ground balls, they just hit it where we weren’t.”
Strasburg struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks.
“I thought I executed pretty well tonight,” Strasburg said. “Just tough, just one of those games.”
Houser, who entered with an 8.44 ERA across two outings, allowed two hits while striking out four in two innings as Milwaukee’s opener. Peralta, who the Brewers used in relief as a way to address his first inning struggles, limited the Nationals to three hits over five innings, lowering his ERA from 8.31 to 6.75.
Locked in a scoreless tie in the seventh, the Nationals put runners on first and second with one out when Strasburg reached on an error by shortstop Arcia and Adam Eaton singled to center. Victor Robles then popped to third.
Rendon just missed a run-scoring hit when he lined an 0-1 pitch just foul down the third-base line. He then took a called third strike. Rendon argued with home-plate umpire CB Bucknor and emphatically pointed the barrel of his bat where he thought the pitch was, prompting the ejection.
“I just told him he was wrong, maybe a couple other words,” Rendon said. “I know better in that situation, not to get tossed, but he definitely got the best of me.”
After speaking to reporters, Rendon taped to his locker a photo of two screen grabs from different angles that showed that the called third strike appeared to be outside.
Washington has dropped four of five games to open a 10-game road trip.
“It’s definitely been frustrating, nobody enjoys losing,” Rendon said. “But that’s why it’s a long season. I know we always say that, but we’ve got to stay positive and we’ve just got to try to continue to do the little things and hopefully they’ll come out to be the big things.”