Stephen Strasburg cools off during his 10 strikeout performance
against the Chicago White Sox.
(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

"If I need to throw it hard, I throw it hard.  It was a tough play, tough game." -- Ryan Zimmerman, on his throwing error in the 11th inning which led to the game-winning run.

THE RESULT:  With his eighth strikeout of the evening, Stephen Strasburg set a Major League record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in his first three career starts. 

Unfortunately, his teammates couldn't solve a starter with a 5.00-plus ERA as the Washington Nationals suffered a tough 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox before 40,325 -- including the President of the United States, who stopped by to support his home town Sox.

The loss drops the Nats to 31-37, six games below .500, the low mark of the season.

Strasburg finished with 10 whiffs, giving the 21-year old 32 Ks in three starts in 19 1/3 innings, surpassing J.R. Richard's 29 in 1971.

But the strikeouts wouldn't matter to the end result, and Strasburg was circumspect after the game.

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

"It's never going to be a goal of mine. My goal is to go out there and help the team win. It's all about wins and losses at this level. You can go out there and strike everybody out, but at the end of the day, if you don't keep your team within striking distance, then what does that all matter?"

The big right-hander did keep his team in the game, limiting the Sox to just one run on four hits.  He once again did not walk a batter in his seven innings.  He threw 85 pitches, 59 for strikes and seemed to rely on his change-up much more tonight than his previous two starts.

Perhaps the only disappointment surrounding his performance was that he was not allowed to come out to start the eighth inning.

"We'll get to the point where we don't hold him back after six, seven innings," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "But right now that's not where we're at with him."

Chicago scratched out their only run off Strasburg in the first inning.  Juan Pierre led off with a routine ground ball to first baseman Adam Dunn.  But Strasburg hesitated just a second covering first, and the speedy Pierre beat him to the bag.

"Didn't get over there in time in the first inning, probably should have been an out there," Strasburg told the throng of reporters after the game at his press conference.

The next batter, wizened Omar Vizquel, blooped a double over Dunn's head down the right field line, putting runners at second and third before everyone had settled into their seats.  A ground out to first by Alex Rios drove the run in, then Strasburg struck out the next two batters to end the frame.

The Ks piled up inning after inning for Strasburg, who mowed the White Sox down after that, putting up zeroes for the next six innings.

White Sox starter Gavin Floyd was up to the task though.  He struck out half of what Strasburg did, but was just effective against the Nats batters.  He gave up just four hits and a walk, and only a double to left center by Adam Dunn--driving home Ryan Zimmerman in the eighth--kept the Nationals from being shut out.

Chicago scored the winning run off Drew Storen (L, 2-1, 1.46) in the 11th inning, giving the rookie reliever his first loss. With two outs and a runner at third, Rios hit a smash to third base that Zimmerman layed out for, making a tremendous stop.

Ivan Rodriguez consoles Drew Storen after eventual winning run scored in 11th inning.
Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

A good throw would have ended the inning, but Zimmerman threw high, and Dunn could not come up with it.  Rios was safe on the infield hit, and Mark Kotsay trotted home with the difference-maker.

THE GOOD:  Obviously, St. Stephen was story for the Nats tonight.  He was just as dominant as he was in his first start against Pittsburgh.  Vizquel's bloop was the only extra base hit against him, and he generated seven ground outs against four fly outs.

He retired 15 batters in a row at one point and lowered his ERA to 1.86.

THE BAD:  It's was a tough play all around, but Dunn has to come down with Zimmerman's throw in the 11th inning.  It was a high throw, but it ticked off the 6'6" first baseman's mitt as then caromed toward the photographer's box.  It's a play a Major League first baseman has to make in the late innings.

THE UGLY:  The offense.  It's just no good right now, and tonight was the worst.  You've got your ace on the hill, throwing BBs past the other team, and all they could muster was five hits off Gavin Floyd (5.20 ERA AFTER the game) and three relievers? 

The Nats only drew two walks and ground into two double plays.

In their four-game losing streak, the Nationals have struck out 40 times and walked just five times, two of those intentional.

NEXT GAME:  Saturday at 4:10 pm, J.D. Martin (0-2, 4.19) will try to halt the Nats losing streak at four against Jake Peavy (5-5, 5.62), who had his start pushed back a day due to a stiff shoulder.

NOTES:  Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann (elbow surgery) threw a 35-pitch simulated game Friday and hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment soon.

Jason Marquis (elbow chips) played catch in the outfield before the game, but has not started to throw from the mound as of yet.

Jordan Zimmermann, on the D.L. after reconstructive elbow surgery, watched from the dugout for the first time this season.  (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)