Strasburg, slumping Nationals lose to Pirates 4-2

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013
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"Not even close. He never tagged me," Ramos said.

He argued the call with umpire Laz Diaz, to no avail.

"Maybe," Ramos said, "he (wanted) to go home."

Nationals spokesman John Dever declined to check whether the umpiring crew would respond to reporters' request for comment.

Washington center fielder Denard Span's take: "It's no secret that the ball definitely isn't bouncing our way. That wasn't the story of the game tonight, but anything could've happened if that play isn't called there."

The Nationals are a season-worst five games under .500 at 48-53. Already having all sorts of trouble at the plate — so much so that the club fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein this week — Washington's starting lineup was missing All-Star left fielder Bryce Harper and shortstop Ian Desmond.

Harper was held out as a precaution after getting treatment on the left knee that landed him on the disabled list earlier this season, while Desmond is dealing with a blister on his left hand.

The last time Washington lost more than six consecutive games was nearly four years ago: They dropped eight in a row from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, 2009, according to STATS LLC — shortly after signing Strasburg as the No. 1 overall pick in that year's amateur draft.

This was Strasburg's ninth career game with 10 or more strikeouts and first this season. His career high remains the 14 Ks from his major league debut on June 8, 2010, against Pittsburgh.

"I want to be the big dog in the rotation; that comes with the territory. The sixth inning isn't cool anymore, for me," Strasburg said. "I want to go seven, eight and hopefully nine sometime."

Strasburg (5-8) did not walk anyone in eight innings Wednesday, giving up only one run and two hits, all in the second inning. That included the leadoff shot by Pedro Alvarez, who drove a 96 mph fastball over the wall in right-center for his 26th homer.

"A backspin 2-iron," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called it. "I've seen a lot of home runs. I've seen a lot of hard-hit balls. But that one got my attention."

Notes: Melancon is filling in for closer Jason Grilli, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. ...

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said LHP Ross Detwiler is expected to miss a month with a back injury. ... On Thursday, the Nationals will start LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 2.89) against Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (4-7, 3.07).

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich