Zimmerman, Strasburg discuss tough 11-inning loss

Catcher Jesus Flores left tonight’s game in the seventh inning with a stiff back. He said after the game that he should be fine for tomorrow’s doubleheader.

Also, Xavier Nady’s rehab stint ended today with a 1-for-3 performance at Single-A Potomac. There’s no official word from the Nationals yet, but it sounds like the team is planning on designating Nady for assignment.

Now back to the shocking nine-run blown lead ...

The game lasted 4 hours, 21 minutes. It saw the Braves come all the way back from 9-0 down. It saw two blown saves in the ninth inning, one by a closer who had converted 15 of 17 save chances as a closer entering tonight and one who had converted 28 of 29 entering tonight.

This was a wild, wild ballgame, all right.

“That was 9-0 with (Stephen) Strasburg on the mound. It’s not looking real good,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “I still can’t believe it. I mean 9-0, that’s never happened to me since I’ve been here.”

What a big win this is for the Braves, who had been pushed around by the Nats for much of the first 8 1/2 games these two teams had played this season. And what a tough loss it seems to be for the Nationals, who could’ve gone up by 4 1/2 games in the division with a win and moved their season record against Atlanta to 7-2.

But the ever-composed Ryan Zimmerman, predictably, says this loss won’t sting that badly. He wasn’t going to let the tough result get to him after tonight’s game - at least not outwardly.

“I think, obviously it’s an emotional game for people watching, and it gets us a little bit,” Zimmerman said. “But in the grand scheme of things, it’s one game. We show up tomorrow just like we do after every other game.

“I think this team is very resilient. Whether it’s a loss like this or a big win, we know the next day that whatever happened yesterday doesn’t do anything for us that day. Just come back and keep playing the game like we’ve been playing it. It was a good game. It was two good teams. They’re a good team over there. They’re not going to quit, and they can hit the ball. They’re going to be there ‘til the end, so that’s just two good teams playing baseball. It was an exciting game.”

Zimmerman’s manager blamed himself for tonight’s loss, suggesting his decisions when it came to handling his bullpen were poor. The Nats’ third baseman says that’s just typical Davey Johnson.

“He hates losing just as much as us, so when we lose, he thinks it’s his fault, as well,” Zimmerman said. “That’s why we all love playing for him so much.”

Johnson said he felt that Strasburg, who went 5 1/3 innings tonight, wasn’t attacking hitters enough tonight. When asked about his approach on the mound, Strasburg said he felt like he was just as aggressive as he normally is during his starts.

“I was pitching off my fastball again and pounding it inside,” he said. “I think, for the most part, I was eating them up inside all night. The last inning, I just left a couple pitches elevated over the plate and they made me pay for it.

“I mean, I wasn’t striking everybody out and I wasn’t going 1-2-3, but that usually never happens anyway. They’re a good team. They’re taking a lot of close pitches they could have swung at, but they didn’t. So that’s really out of my control. I was just trying to pound the strike zone and was just missing a little bit tonight.”

Did the nine-run lead cause the Nats to let their intensity slip?

“I don’t know. Myself, I’m always intense out there,” Strasburg said. “I don’t like pitching to the scoreboard. To me, it was still a 0-0 ballgame. But I’d say in the grand scheme of things, it can be tough. Obviously, you put up a lot of runs early, and you just kind of take your mind out of it for a split second and they get back in it and it gets to be crunch time. It’s something we’re going to learn from.

“We’re too good a team to just roll over. We’re going to come out ready to play tomorrow.”

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