Nationals-Cubs Preview

It’s been more than three months since Stephen Strasburg won a

road game.

He’ll need to last a lot longer than his most recent

attempt.

After being tossed from his most recent outing, Strasburg will

try to help the Washington Nationals cap this four-game series with

a third straight win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

Strasburg (6-9, 2.93 ERA) is 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA in 11 road

starts on the season, going 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA over his last six

since winning at San Diego on May 16.

The right-hander’s latest effort to end that slide ended with no

outs in the second inning of Saturday’s 8-7 win over Atlanta. He

was ejected for throwing consecutive pitches behind Andrelton

Simmons’ back, and manager Davey Johnson joined him in the

clubhouse after arguing the call.

Strasburg’s exit came after he allowed two runs with two walks

while hitting a batter, and Johnson insisted his ace wasn’t

intentionally trying to make it two.

“When he went back out in the second inning, I’ve never seen his

command so bad,” Johnson said. “He couldn’t come close to the first

hitter he faced. Then he threw a curve ball that was eight feet

outside and then a couple balls that were behind the hitter. It

didn’t look like he was trying to hit (Simmons).

“He couldn’t find the strike zone.”

That hasn’t been the case in two meetings with the Cubs (54-72).

He’s limited them to one earned run with 12 strikeouts and three

walks in 12 innings but lost his only decision after being backed

with two total runs.

Ryan Zimmerman specifically let Strasburg down in his last

meeting versus Chicago on May 11, when one of the third baseman’s

two errors resulted in a four-run fifth inning in an 8-2 loss.

Zimmerman, though, is 7 for 16 with three doubles and three RBIs

in four meetings since. He had two hits with an RBI in Wednesday’s

11-6 win over the Cubs.

“Eleven runs, I think it’s Christmas,” Johnson said.

Jayson Werth has been on a month-long tear for the Nationals

(62-64), hitting .452 in 18 games after connecting for a three-run

homer Wednesday.

The Cubs have dropped 15 of their last 18 games at Wrigley

Field, and Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13) is 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in four

starts during that stretch.

The left-hander was the Cubs’ only representative at last

month’s All-Star game, and he’s 1-4 with a 4.29 ERA in six games

since. He struggled again Saturday, surrendering four runs in 5 1-3

innings of a 4-0 home loss to St. Louis.

This will be Wood’s first start against the Nationals, but he

did make a pinch-running appearance in a 2-1 win in Washington on

May 12.

Anthony Rizzo is hoping that he’s snapped out of a recent funk

after homering twice among his three hits Wednesday. The first

baseman, hitting second for the first time in his career as part of

an altered Cubs lineup, was batting .115 with one homer and three

RBIs over the previous 16 games.

Rizzo is 18 for 46 (.391) with five home runs in 13 career games

against the Nationals. He’s 2 for 3 off Strasburg.