Rockies-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

Other than the outcome of his first start off the disabled list, Stephen Strasburg feels good about being back on the mound for the Washington Nationals.

The right-hander looks to build on that outing while trying to help hand the visiting Colorado Rockies a season-high fifth straight defeat Friday night.

Out since May 31 with a strained muscle in his back, Strasburg (3-6, 2.50 ERA) allowed a run and one hit over 82 pitches in five innings of a 2-0 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

"I felt really good and definitely could have gone for a few more innings, but they didn't want me to,'' he said. "It was good to be out there after two weeks.''

Strasburg, who was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts before he got hurt at Atlanta, retired eight in a row at one point but also walked four and struck out four Sunday.

"He was a little bit rusty and didn't have his command, but I thought he settled in pretty well,'' Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "He had a maximum of 80.''

The Nationals (36-36) were shut out for the eighth time in that contest. They scored three runs when Strasburg went 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA against the Rockies last season.

Washington has totaled 11 runs and 19 hits to win two in a row following a three-game skid where it recorded six and 22 hits. Adam LaRoche had three hits with two RBIs, Ian Desmond homered for the second straight game and Jordan Zimmermann pitched eight strong innings in Thursday's 5-1 win over Colorado (37-37).

"We need to get ourselves on track and play some consistent ball," LaRoche said. "I don't need to tell you we've been way too streaky.''

Desmond, who hit a grand slam in the 11th inning of Wednesday's 6-2 win at Philadelphia, has homered for three of the four hits in his last 26 at-bats.

LaRoche is 6 for 11 in three games after he went 0 for 16 in the previous five. He's hit .326 with nine RBIs in his last 12 contests against the Rockies, who have been outscored 20-6 during their four-game slide.

Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez is 2 for 21 with 12 strikeouts in his last six games versus Washington after going 9 for 15 in his previous four.

The Rockies hope to get back on track behind another strong effort from scheduled starter Tyler Chatwood (4-1, 2.33). The right-hander, who missed his previous turn in the rotation due to a triceps injury, gave up two runs and overcame seven hits and three walks in five innings in Saturday's 10-5 victory over Philadelphia.

"I thought Chat did an outstanding job,'' Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "What I really liked is when he got in trouble, he got the double-play ball.

"I think he's really focused on doing that this year. That's been his approach in those situations and he's been able to get it done.''

Chatwood has yielded six runs and no homers over 32 2-3 innings while going 4-1 in his last six starts, a span that included a trip to the minors.

This will be his first appearance versus Washington.

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