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Hit on hip, Stras says he's OK to pitch in ASG

Nationals righty gives up 6 runs (3 earned) in 3 IP
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg stood with his glove on his left hip as he watched manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux trot out to the mound. Strasburg had already given up three runs when Nick Markakis belted a line drive off his right hip in the third inning of the Nationals' 13-0 loss to the Braves on Saturday, so his coaches checked on him.

Strasburg threw two test pitches and nodded at his coaches, a sign he was good, before they walked back to the dugout. But Strasburg didn't look too good, giving up three more runs in the inning to put Washington in a 6-0 hole. Strasburg exited after the frame, throwing a season-low three innings and matching a season-high six runs allowed, though only three were earned due to his error.

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WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg stood with his glove on his left hip as he watched manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux trot out to the mound. Strasburg had already given up three runs when Nick Markakis belted a line drive off his right hip in the third inning of the Nationals' 13-0 loss to the Braves on Saturday, so his coaches checked on him.

Strasburg threw two test pitches and nodded at his coaches, a sign he was good, before they walked back to the dugout. But Strasburg didn't look too good, giving up three more runs in the inning to put Washington in a 6-0 hole. Strasburg exited after the frame, throwing a season-low three innings and matching a season-high six runs allowed, though only three were earned due to his error.

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Strasburg said he felt fine after the ball hit the bone on the side of his right leg and doesn't expect the injury to linger. Baker's main reason for pulling Strasburg was the comebacker. Nonetheless, the right-hander posted his roughest start of the season.

"I definitely could've kept going," Strasburg said, "but I just got singled to death."

The righty said he expects to participate in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX), and National League manager Joe Maddon assured Baker that pitchers would only throw one inning.

Video: ATL@WSH: Strasburg on leaving the game early

But Strasburg's wound and command issues Saturday hold greater implications than an exhibition. The Nats' bullpen has the highest ERA in the Majors, so the club has relied on its starters to pitch deep. Strasburg, for example, entered Saturday averaging the fifth-most pitches per start in the NL, behind teammates Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez.

Video: ATL@WSH: Baker on pulling Strasburg and the loss

Baker attempted to sum up Strasburg's first half before the game, describing him as excellent at times and fair at others. That inconsistency stood out in the final stretch of the 28-year-old's first half.

After lowering his ERA to 2.80 on June 7, Strasburg surrendered five or more runs in three of his last six outings of the first half. But he seemed to get back on track after seven scoreless innings against the Mets on July 3.

Still, Strasburg gave up two runs in the second before permitting four in the third. Washington's defense didn't help Strasburg either, as Adam Lind timed his route wrong on Markakis' hit to left field in the second frame and Daniel Murphy couldn't turn a double play a few plays later.

Strasburg didn't record a strikeout for the first time in his career when pitching more than one inning. He also induced just three swing and misses, his second-lowest total since Statcast™ began in 2015.

"Bad luck, to be honest," Strasburg said. "Other than [Freddie Freeman] and Markakis, they really weren't squaring the ball up."

The Nationals' main goal is to keep Strasburg healthy in October. He's pitched in just one of their three postseasons over the past six seasons due to injuries, and they'll likely need him to make a deep October run.

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg