Strasburg back on track (Cubs tie it in the 9th, we go to extras)

CHICAGO - One start after completely losing his control against the Braves and getting ejected following seven straight balls to begin the second inning (the final two of which were behind Andrelton Simmons), Stephen Strasburg has been totally locked in against the Cubs.

Through three innings, Strasburg has struck out five, allowed one hit and two walks and thrown just 42 pitches, 27 for strikes.

The fastball has touched 97 mph and the curveball has been dazzling.

On a third-inning strikeout of Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo, Strasburg totally had the young first baseman fooled. He threw three straight 95 mph fastballs over the meaty part of the plate, and Rizzo was so locked up and confused by the pitch selection that he took all three for his second strikeout in as many at-bats.

This came after Strasburg got Rizzo swinging at a wicked curveball to end a first-inning at-bat.

Strasburg also showed impressive quickness to the plate after walking Starlin Castro in the third, giving catcher Wilson Ramos a shot to gun Castro at second. Ramos did just that, ending the inning.

The Nationals have given Strasburg a 3-0 lead to work with thanks to a Ryan Zimmerman solo shot in the first and two runs in the second. Strasburg plated one of those runs himself with an RBI single to center, and Anthony Rendon knocked in another with a sac fly.

Tyler Moore singled in his first at-bat of the game, and with a 1-for-2 so far today, he’s now is 5-for-9 since coming back up from Triple-A Syracuse. Davey Johnson is giving Moore some more playing time lately, and the power-hitting first baseman is showing well in his opportunities.

Update: Make that six strikeouts for Strasburg over four scoreless. He’s now at just 52 pitches, and the only hit he’s allowed was Dioner Navarro’s bloop single to right-center in the first.

Other than that, it’s been pure domination by Strasburg here at Wrigley today.

Update II: Strasburg now has two hits in three at-bats today. And that’s not the most surprising thing to happen from a member of the Nats’ lineup today.

Steve Lombardozzi hit his first home run of the 2013 season leading off the seventh inning, a shot out to left that gave the Nats a 4-0 lead.

Lombardozzi had gone his first 230 at-bats this season without a longball, but he finally got on the board in that department in the seventh, putting the barrel to an 0-1 cutter from Travis Wood.

I have a feeling some sarcastic comments were tossed Lombardozzi’s way once he got back to the dugout.

Strasburg continues to cruise and the Nats have a seemingly comfortable advantage here as we approach the late innings.

Update III: Instead of notching his second complete-game victory in his last three starts, Strasburg walks off the mound with a no-decision.

Strasburg allowed three runs (two of which were earned) in the ninth, turning a 4-1 lead into a 4-4 tie. Donnie Murphy’s two-run bomb to left with two outs knotted the score and sent the fans remaining at Wrigley Field into a frenzy.

After the Nats were unable to turn a potential 4-6-3 double play that would have ended the game, Anthony Rendon’s throwing error on a ball into the hole allowed Nate Schierholtz to score to cut the lead to two with two outs.

Murphy then lifted a 1-1 Strasburg curveball just over the ivy-covered wall in left to tie the game.

After getting called on in relief, Rafael Soriano allowed a double to Brian Bogusevic that put the winning run in scoring position, but he got out of the jam.

Strasburg goes 8 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. He allowed two home runs and threw 112 pitches, 77 for strikes.

Extra innings, here we come.

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