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Pitchers allow 12 hits in 8-2 loss to Cubs

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Kevin Dunleavy

As Stephen Strasburg has muddled through his longest stretch in the major leagues without a win, there has been a litany of diagnoses ranging from elbow stiffness, to a lack of command, to a change in throwing motion, to first-inning woes, and even to bad body language.

But as Strasburg has gone 0-5 in his last seven starts, his most consistent malady has been a lack of support.

Saturday in a 8-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs before 37,116 at Nationals Park, Strasburg was betrayed by a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, ineffective relief and an anemic offense that made a winner out of Edwin Jackson (1-5) for the first time this year.

The Cubs (14-22) got all the runs they needed in a disastrous fifth inning following Zimmerman's sixth throwing error of the year, which came on a routine, two-out grounder by Wellington Castillo. After cruising through the first four innings allowing only one hit, Strasburg issued two walks, and served up a two-run double to Jackson and singles to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.

On a day when Strasburg lowered his ERA to 3.10, his record fell to 1-5. In his last seven starts, the Nats have scored only 15 runs. Of the 25 runs Strasburg has allowed during the stretch, eight have been unearned.

The 24-year-old right-hander wasn't completely blameless on Saturday. He would have surrendered more runs and all would have been earned were it not for Luis Valbuena getting thrown out earlier in the inning trying to stretch a double into a triple. The performance on Saturday was another demonstration of Strasburg's recent lack of resilience.

Another disturbing development was the Zimmerman miscue, his first of two in the game. The problem has been magnified as his errors have come at bad moments, leading to 11 unearned runs. The Nats are 1-5 in games he has erred.

The lone positive on Saturday, as Jayson Werth went on the disabled list and Bryce Harper sat out a second straight game following removal of an ingrown toenail, was the hitting of shortstop Ian Desmond who had half the Nats' hits -- a single, double and home run -- accounting for both RBI.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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