Strasburg tries to snap slide versus struggling Braves

9:59 AM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will try to snap his career-long losing streak when he takes the mound Monday in the opener of a four-game series against the NL East-rival Atlanta Braves.

Since winning on Opening Day back on April 1, Strasburg is 0-4 with a 4.07 earned run average and the Nationals have been giving barely any run support. Washington is averaging 1.8 runs per game when Strasburg takes the hill.

The young right-hander struck out seven and allowed three runs in seven innings of a 4-2 loss to St. Louis his last time out on Wednesday. Strasburg lost to the Braves on April 13, when he surrendered two unearned runs in six innings of a 3-1 loss at Nationals Park.

Strasburg is 0-2 in two road starts and 3-4 with a 3.59 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.

Washington will begin a seven-game road trip Monday at Turner Field and just went 3-4 on a recent homestand. The Nationals were aiming for a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, but dropped Sunday's series finale by a 5-2 score.

The Reds had an 11-5 advantage in hits and got to Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, who allowed four runs -- three earned -- and 11 hits in five innings.

"I didn't want to throw the ball right down the middle, but it's just one of those things I didn't have a good feel for anything today," said Detwiler. "You go back and figure out why everything went wrong. You learn a lot more from your failures than you do your successes."

Ian Desmond highlighted the offense with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Kurt Suzuki drove in the other run for the Nationals, who are 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the NL East lead.

"I still don't think that they are better than us. They are hot right now," Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa said of Atlanta a few weeks ago. "They have come back on people. They are playing well. It doesn't last forever. So I'm not worried about it."

The Braves had a stronger hold on the division lead, but four straight losses and seven in nine tries allowed the Nationals to creep back into the picture.

Atlanta was swept in three games at Detroit over the weekend and failed to salvage Sunday's finale of the set with an 8-3 loss. Chris Johnson, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla each had an RBI for the Braves, who went 3-7 on a 10-game road trip.

"It was a tough road trip," Uggla said. "You could tell it wore on us -- the weather, the travel, the doubleheader, the days off. Everything I think caught up to us here. I'm not taking anything away from (the Tigers). They really swung the bats great and got great pitching all three days."

Atlanta starter Mike Minor gave up six runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings to absorb the loss. The left-hander fanned six and walked two.

The Braves, who are scheduled to host the New York Mets on this seven-game homestand, hope young right-hander Julio Teheran can build on his recent start when he takes the hill Monday. Teheran earned his first win of the season last Tuesday in a 10-2 victory at Colorado and allowed only a run in seven innings.

Teheran is now 1-0 in four starts with a 5.48 earned run average and did not figure into the decision of a 6-4 win at Washington on April 12. His final line in that one was four runs and six hits in six innings. That was Teheran's first appearance against the Nationals.

Atlanta swept the three-game series a few weeks ago at Nationals Park and has won the last seven meetings between the teams.

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