PHOENIX — Stephen Strasburg says he hasn’t felt right since the All-Star break and decided after two innings in Arizona to call it a day.
“The stuff was good but it’s still kind of like lingering,” he said, “and I just want to nip it in the bud now, hopefully not miss any time and try and be smart about it.”
Manager Dusty Baker turned to five relievers to share the final seven innings in the Washington Nationals’ 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Sunday that wrapped up a successful nine-game trip out of the All-Star break.
Strasburg described the problem as slight “achiness” in his forearm.
“The All-Star break kind of messed up me throwing-wise and treatment-wise,” he said. “I think my arm is just kind of taking a while to get back in the swing of things, unfortunately. I pitched through it last game and obviously did well. But it was kind of still lingering there and I said ‘You know what, I’ve got to be smart about it.'”
In his previous start in Cincinnati, Strasburg went seven innings, limiting the Reds to one run on four hits while fanning 11 and walking one.
“It’s not really like intense pain in a specific area,” he said. “It’s just kind of like general tightness and I’m having a tough time to really get loose out there.”
Strasburg, 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA, uncharacteristically walked the No. 8 and No. 9 batters in the second inning before departing with a 5-0 lead. He threw 51 pitches, 29 strikes.
“He’s had a little stiffness, really couldn’t get loose even though he’s throwing the ball well,” Baker said. “So we’ll analyze it when we get back home after he sees our doctors and hopefully we’ll have an answer on Tuesday.”
Brian Goodwin’s leadoff homer ignited a four-run first inning off Robbie Ray (9-5), who lasted five innings, allowing five runs.
“A little bit that happened to the first night to Max Scherzer (when Arizona homered three times and scored four),” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “They came out and just caught us with a quick punch and staggered us.”
Bryce Harper singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.
Wilmer Difo hit his second home run of the season off reliever T.J. McFarland in the seventh.
Joe Blanton (1-2) got two outs and earned the win.
The NL East-leading Nationals took two of three in Arizona to go 7-2 on the trip.
Nine players batted for Washington in the opening inning. Goodwin started it with a booming shot high above the home run line across the batter’s eye in straightaway center.
Difo and Harper singled and Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Daniel Murphy walked and Anthony Rendon singled in a run. Jose Lobaton capped the scoring with a two-out RBI single before Strasburg bounced into a fielder’s choice to end Ray’s 39-pitch inning.
Arizona broke through with two runs in the fifth.
Chris Iannetta had a pinch-hit single with one out and David Descalso walked before Ketel Marte and David Peralta each singled in a run. With runners at first and third and one out, Blanton came on to strike out Paul Goldschmidt and got Chris Owings to ground into a fielder’s choice.
The Diamondbacks had runners at second and third with one out in the sixth but Enny Romero struck out A.J. Pollock and Descalso bounced out to second. Romero left the game in the seventh with an apparent injury.
Arizona, 3-6 since the All-Star break, stranded 11 runners.
Washington’s Andrew Stevenson, called up from Triple-A Syracuse, was 0 for 2 in his major league debut.
Nationals: Washington placed OF Chris Heisey on the 10-day DL. Heisey strained his left groin in Saturday night’s 4-3 victory. Additionally, OF Ryan Raburn was placed on the bereavement list.
Diamondbacks: J.D. Martinez appeared in his first game in Arizona as a Diamondback after missing three games with a bruised wrist, the result of being hit by a pitch in his Diamondbacks debut. He walked as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Nationals: Washington has Monday off and hosts Milwaukee on Tuesday. RH Edwin Jackson makes his second start for the Nationals.
Diamondbacks: Arizona begins a three-game home series against Atlanta on Monday night. Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.93 ERA), 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 home starts, goes for the Diamondbacks. R.A. Dickey (6-6, 4.14) counters for the Braves.