Sports News

Red-hot Strasburg loses first game of career

WASHINGTON June 23 (Reuters) - Stephen Strasburg had another spectacular outing but the Kansas City Royals defeated the Washington Nationals 1-0 Wednesday to saddle the rookie right-hander with the first loss of his young career.

Strasburg (2-1) scattered a career-high nine hits over six innings but yielded only one run, a fifth-inning single by Jose Guillen on an 0-2 pitch that scored David DeJesus.

“It wasn’t a bad pitch,” the 23-year-old Strasburg told reporters. “He was on it.”

Using a variety of fastballs, change-ups and breaking balls, Strasburg struck out nine and did not walk a batter while lowering his earned run average to a minuscule 1.78.

Strasburg, the high-profile first pick in the 2009 draft, has 41 strikeouts from his four starts since being called up from the minors earlier this month.

The rookie’s strikeout total is the most ever after four starts by a major leaguer.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said although Strasburg surrendered nine hits, he was impressed that the right-hander was able to buckle down when it mattered.

“They can hit,” Riggleman said of the Royals. “They’re not easy to strike out. He got some strikeouts but the runs across the plate are the biggest issue and he only let one across.

“So I thought he did another great job.”

The Nationals have dropped nine of their last 12 games and have fallen into the basement of the National League East with a 33-40 record.

Strasburg conceded he was not as sharp as some of his previous outings but said he did well enough on a sweltering day in Washington.

“My goal out there as a pitcher is to keep your team in the ball game,” he said. “There are going to be games where things just don’t go our way.

“You want to go out there and win every single game but that’s just not the way this game works.”

Strasburg said he was not at all frustrated about receiving little run support for the second straight game.

“That’s how this game is,” he said. “We’re starting to play some good fundamental baseball. Once our bats come alive, we’re going to start winning some games. It’s only matter of time.”

Strasburg grounded a single to left in the third inning for his first hit in the big leagues.

“I looked pretty bad my previous outings,” he said. “My swing is starting to come together a little bit. I’m not saying I’m going to break out and hit all the time. I got lucky.”

Writing by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Ian Ransom