Early runs help Nats overcome Stras' early exit

July 23rd, 2017

PHOENIX -- After watching the D-backs score four runs in the first inning in the series opener, the Nationals did likewise Sunday afternoon in the series finale and went on to beat the D-backs, 6-2, to take two of three games at Chase Field.

The win capped a nine-game road trip for the Nationals, who went 7-2 on the trip.

"That's what we wanted to do," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "We wanted to come out strong after the break and maybe catch some teams that are still on break maybe. That's one of the things we stress a lot."

The Nationals didn't give D-backs starter Robbie Ray (9-5) any time to settle in, as led off the game with a homer and , and each added RBIs during the five-hit frame.

Early command troubles prove costly for Ray

Nats starter didn't get to enjoy the run support for very long, as he left the game after the second inning as a precaution after having trouble getting loose due to an achy forearm. He will be further evaluated by team doctors Tuesday.

"I've had so much stuff happen, just trying not to be selfish out there," Strasburg said. "I'm not really helping the team if I'm going out there and continually throwing through these things."

The Nats' bullpen picked up the slack, as five relievers -- highlighted by 2 1/3 key innings from left-hander -- helped keep the D-backs, who stranded 11 runners, at bay.

"Offensively, I know there were a number of opportunities with runners in scoring position that we were not able to cash in on," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "What I've been saying all year long is that these guys have been doing that at a pretty amazing pace, and when they don't do it, it's kind of startling. Hitting with runners in scoring position is a very difficult task. They spoil us."


Romero reigns them in: With one out in the sixth, the D-backs got back-to-back hits from and to put runners on the corners with one out. But left-hander settled down and struck out A.J. Pollock swinging and got to ground out and end the inning.

However, Romero would leave the game during the seventh inning after feeling a back spasm. He did not seem overly concerned after the game and believes he can avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Blanton to the rescue: The D-backs scored a pair of runs in the fifth on back-to-back singles from and and had runners on the corners with one out. Baker brought in Joe Blanton, who struck out and got Chris Owings to hit into a fielder's choice to end the threat.


"We'll spit that one out. We got sucker-punched, and we didn't take advantage of some opportunities offensively, and they beat us." -- Lovullo


Blanco hit a grounder to short that fielded but threw low and off-target, forcing first baseman Zimmerman to stretch to his right to field it. First-base umpire Jim Reynolds called Blanco out, but Lovullo challenged the call, which was confirmed after a review of 2 minutes, 11 seconds.


Nationals: The Nationals have an off-day Monday after this 10-day road trip before opening a three-game series with the Brewers on Tuesday at Nationals Park. looks to build off a strong start in his return to the Nats; he threw seven innings of two-run ball in a victory over the Angels. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. ET.

D-backs: The D-backs open a three-game series with the Braves on Monday night at Chase Field with ace Zack Greinke on the mound. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 home starts this season. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. MST.

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