Washington’s Strasburg strikes again in Tribe loss

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports

Writer

CLEVELAND (AP)

— Stephen Strasburg learned life on the road isn’t always

smooth.

Washington’s rookie sensation had

more trouble with Cleveland’s mound than Indians hitters while lasting 5

1-3 innings during his second major league start, leading the Nationals

to a 9-4 victory Sunday.

Coming off a

14-strikeout debut, Strasburg (2-0) allowed just two hits, one a home

run by Travis Hafner. He struck out eight and walked five before leaving

to a chorus of boos in the sixth as Washington ended Cleveland’s

four-game winning streak.

Strasburg was in

control from the outset, and appeared destined to dominate the Indians,

who with the exception of Hafner, couldn’t catch up to his 100 mph

fastball through four innings.

But the

21-year-old, who has become baseball’s newest attraction, was bothered

by loose dirt on the mound and twice requested repairs.

When he was lifted by manager Jim Riggleman

after walking two in the sixth to load the bases, Strasburg was booed by

many of the same fans who came to see if the phenom was for real.

Strasburg didn’t disappoint, but he didn’t deliver anything as

sensational as his 14-K gem.

Strasburg’s

appearance drew 32,876 fans, the second-largest crowd at Progressive

Field this season. On hand was another pitching prodigy, 91-year-old

Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who fanned 15 in his first major league start

as a 17-year-old in 1936.

“It’s real

refreshing to see anyone with such talent come into the league,” said

Feller, who sat in his usual seat in the press box. “He’s got a good

repertoire. He’ll have good days and bad, but he’ll have a lot more good

than bad throwing 100 miles per hour. I wish him well.”

Adam Dunn homered off David Huff (2-8), scored

three times and accidentally barreled over Cleveland’s hotshot prospect,

catcher Carlos Santana.

Huff matched

Strasburg through five innings, but gave up four runs in the sixth on

Ivan Rodriguez’s two-run double and rookie Ian Desmond’s two-run triple.

Desmond and Christian Guzman and three hits apiece for Washington.

Strasburg relaxed before his first road start

by playing a video game in Washington’s clubhouse.

Over in Cleveland’s locker room, several

players watched “Major League,” the 1980s comedy film that depicts a

fictional, fun-loving Indians team winning their division.

The players switched on the TV in time to get

an on-site report about Strasburg.

“The

phenom,” reliever Jensen Lewis shouted. “Here we go.”

Strasburg’s first pitch — a 99 mph fastball

for a strike to leadoff hitter Trevor Crowe — stirred the crowd, which

reacted to the radar-gun posting with a collective gasp of excitement.

He fanned Crowe and Shin-Soo Choo, giving him nine consecutive

strikeouts over two games.

In the second

inning, Hafner turned on a 100-mph heater from Strasburg, hitting a

laser shot into the Nationals’ bullpen in right to tie it at 1.

Strasburg then retired Austin Kearns on a fly

to right, fanned Russell Branyan and locked up Jhonny Peralta with an 83

mph changeup.

He ran, well, walked, into

trouble in the fourth. After striking out Choo for the second time, he

issued the first two walks of his career. However, showing poise beyond

his years, he responded by getting Kearns to flail at a low fastball and

whiffing Branyan again.

Before he took

the mound in the fifth, Strasburg summoned plate umpire Brian O’Nora for

a look. The right-hander pointed to a rough spot and three members of

the grounds crew added dirt and tamped the area between the rubber and

infield grass seemingly to the satisfaction of baseball’s new star.

He gave up his second hit, a broken-bat single

to Santana in the sixth, then stumbled on a delivery to Hafner. He

kicked the red clay in frustration after yielding his fourth walk and

again asked for mound maintenance. As the workers were dispatched,

Strasburg was the target of big-league boos for the first time.

It was all love early on as Strasburgmania

swept into town.

Hundreds of fans, some

wearing No. 37 replica jerseys and almost all of them toting cameras,

lined the stands down the right-field line as Strasburg walked onto the

field before the game.

“Good luck,

Stephen,” one hollered.

He hardly needed

it.

Strasburg played catch in the

outfield before heading to the bullpen, where hundreds more fans peered

over the wall at the 6-foot-4 San Diego native, who immediately began

popping the catcher’s glove. Meanwhile in the Indians’ bullpen, Huff

warmed up to an audience of 10.

In the

second, Santana learned a valuable lesson in his third major league

game: Don’t take your eyes off Dunn.

Santana was flattened near home plate by the 6-foot-6, 287-pound first

baseman, who couldn’t avoid the collision. Santana moved to his left to

possibly catch an overthrow to first when he inadvertently stepped into

the path of the scoring Dunn.

Santana was

knocked off his feet and did a backward somersault. Dunn came over to

make sure he was OK. Santana, listed at 190 pounds, was not injured and

seemed more embarrassed than anything as he jogged off the field.

NOTES: Browns

rookie quarterback Colt McCoy visited with players on the field during

pregame batting practice. He’s a friend of Dunn, a star high school

quarterback in Texas who signed and played one season with the Longhorns

before pursuing his baseball career. … According to Elias Sports

Bureau, only one pitcher since 1900 has had more strikeouts before

issuing his first career walk than Strasburg, who fanned 19 before

walking Santana in the fourth. Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto struck out 22

before his first walk in 2008.

Updated June 13, 2010