Strasburg aims to duplicate debut in meeting with Pirates

Stephen Strasburg's first major league start was a memorable one when he faced the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 8, 2010 in the nation's capital.

The right-hander hopes to duplicate that effort when the Washington Nationals continue a four-game series against Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Strasburg's only other DC start against the Pirates came in that debut when he had 14 strikeouts in a seven-inning performance. Strasburg is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts versus the Pirates.

Most recently, Strasburg has a 2-1 mark over his last six outings. He's coming off a no-decision against the Dodgers on Friday when he gave up seven hits and a pair of runs in seven frames. He's 3-0 in his last six home starts and hasn't lost at Nationals Park since May 11 versus the Cubs.

Francisco Liriano counters for the Pirates. The left-hander had a four-start winning streak stopped in his last start, Friday at Cincinnati. In that game, he allowed five hits and five runs over 4 1/3 innings.

Liriano has allowed one earned run or less in eight of his first 13 starts. Three of his losses this season have come against the Reds. He's 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA against every other team and this will be his first time facing the Nationals.

Last night, Gerrit Cole saved his best work, and excitement, for the mound, where he shut down the Washington Nationals and led the Pirates to a 5-1 win.

The 22-year-old rookie gave up one run on two hits in seven innings to snap a three-start losing streak. Cole (5-3) struck out four and walked one in addition to two hits and an RBI at the plate.

Pedro Alvarez slammed his 25th home run for the Pirates, who have won three in a row and remain 1 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.

"We don't live and die by it, we go out there to win every game," Cole said of the standings. "I think we're really good about it, but we watch the scoreboard to see if we can pick up a game here or there."

Taylor Jordan (0-3) took the loss after giving up five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and a walk over 7 2/3 innings.

"I really wanted to win today because we needed it," Jordan said. "I'd love to celebrate one time."

Wilson Ramos' home run was the only run for Washington, which has lost five in a row.

The Nationals won two of three from the Pirates earlier this season, May 3-5 at PNC Park.