Strasburg's streak ends as Nats lose to Rockies
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DENVER (AP) Washington ace Stephen Strasburg made his first career start at Coors Field on Monday night, and he's still in search of his first win at Colorado's longtime home.
Strasburg pitched six innings, but the Rockies rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Nationals that snapped the right-hander's six-start winning streak.
"I went out there and pounded the strike zone," Strasburg said. "It seemed they were just hitting it right beyond our gloves, basically. It's baseball and they did a good job of battling up there. They were just trying to take what was given to them and regardless of how bad it looked, they got some hits."
Jeff Francis pitched five effective innings as the Rockies won for just the fourth time in 18 games. Todd Helton delivered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and Dexter Fowler had two hits.
Strasburg (9-2) allowed three runs and six hits. He was bidding to become the first Washington-based pitcher to win seven straight starts since Bob Porterfield did it in his final seven starts for the Senators in 1953. The last pitcher from the Nationals franchise to win seven straight starts was Pedro Martinez in 1997 for the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington.
Strasburg helped himself with a tiebreaking RBI double in the fifth, putting the Nationals ahead 2-1. He also had a sacrifice in the third that set up Ryan Zimmerman's run-scoring double.
But the Rockies went ahead for good in the sixth. Fowler led off with a triple into the right-field corner. Strasburg then beaned Marco Scutaro with his first pitch, with the ball bouncing off Scutaro's helmet. He got up quickly but was replaced by Chris Nelson after being examined by Rockies trainer Keith Dugger.
Strasburg said he threw a sinker that got away from him.
"It's part of baseball and you try and get in and obviously, you never want to hit a guy in the head," he said. "You think about it for a second, hope that he's OK. But once I saw him walk off I figured he'd be OK."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said after the game that Scutaro "is going to be OK."
"Helton did a good job on a breaking ball," Strasburg said, "getting a piece of it and to hit it to center. I did what I could based on the circumstances."
Strasburg struck out eight and walked one. He had not allowed more than two runs in each of his past four starts.
Nationals rookie Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
"It is a good win, but only one win," Helton said. "We need to get a few more of these to get our season going."
Betancourt allowed consecutive one-out singles, bringing up pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina. He hit a hard liner to right field but just a few steps from Cuddyer. Betancourt then got Danny Espinosa to bounce out to second to end the game.
Jesus Flores had three hits and scored twice for NL East-leading Washington, which lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
"We're facing pitchers that everybody jumps all over and they look like Sandy Koufax out there," manager Davey Johnson said. "We've just got to change our approach, get a little smarter."
NOTES: The temperature of 100 degrees was the warmest ever for the start of a game at Coors Field, where the Rockies played their 1,406th regular-season contest. ... Rockies RHP Juan Nicasio (left knee strain) will face hitters in a simulated game Tuesday. He last pitched for the Rockies on June 2. ... The Rockies optioned struggling starter Alex White to Triple-A Colorado Springs and recalled reliever Zach Putnam. ... The Nationals placed outfielder Xavier Nady (right wrist soreness) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday and activated infielder-outfielder Mark DeRosa, who had been on the disabled list for 50 games with a left oblique strain. ... The Nationals released reliever Brad Lidge, who was designated for assignment June 17. ... Christian Friedrich (4-4) will start Tuesday for the Rockies against Gio Gonzalez (9-3).
Updated June 26, 2012