While they are not in full panic mode just yet, there is definitely some concern with the Washington Nationals. On Wednesday, they try to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss when they conclude a brief two-game set with the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.
Washington's struggles continued on Tuesday, as the Marlins pummeled Stephen Strasburg for a career-worst seven runs and Ricky Nolasco threw a shutout in the Marlins' 9-0 victory.
Nolasco (10-12), who was 1-6 with a 6.70 earned run average since the All-Star break, needed 115 pitches to toss his third career shutout. He gave up five hits while striking out six without a walk.
"Any time you're rolling like that it's nice to finish it off," Nolasco said of his complete game.
In the opposite dugout, Strasburg (15-6), who was 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in August, was charged for seven runs -- five earned -- in five innings. He surrendered nine hits, matching a career high, and a walk.
"I struggled for pretty much the whole game. It's a learning experience for me," Strasburg said.
The loss coupled with Atlanta's win in San Diego trimmed Washington's lead in the National League East to four games.
"We've played really good 90 percent of the year," said Washington manager Davey Johnson. "We're in a rough spot here. That makes the metal hotter. The tougher it gets, the stronger you get, so we'll be fine."
Hoping to avoid Washington's first six-game slide since Aug. 23-28, 2011 will be lefty Ross Detwiler, who has lost two of his last three starts. Detwiler pitched well in a loss to the Braves last Wednesday, as he allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, but fell to 7-6 on the year to go along with a 3.25 ERA.
"It's easy to say you don't throw enough breaking stuff when they are hitting fastballs," Detwiler said after the start. "I didn't have good command of the breaking stuff. Overall, I didn't give our team an opportunity to win. That's what it boils down to."
Detwiler has yet to give up a run to the Marlins in 12 career innings.
Miami, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jacob Turner, who lost his first start with the club last Wednesday. Acquired from Detroit as part of the Anibal Sanchez deal, Turner gave up three runs and four hits in six innings of a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"He was relaxed on the mound, very nice and loose," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He was throwing a lot of strikes. He made one bad pitch but I like what I see."
Washington has split 14 matchups this season versus the Marlins, but has dropped six of the eight meetings in Miami.