The Mariners had their chances Saturday. They just couldn't convert when it really mattered.
Stephen Strasburg pitched into the eighth inning, Jayson Werth hit his second home run in two nights and Seattle lost 3-1 to the Washington Nationals to drop the first two games of the series.
Washington has won 11 straight against the Mariners, the longest current streak for one major league team against another.
Strasburg (11-10) went 7 2-3 innings and struck out eight, increasing his NL-leading total to 210. The right-hander also broke the Nationals' single-season record of 207 set by Gio Gonzalez two years ago.
The Mariners had opportunities, though. In the third, Seattle put runners on second and third before Robinson Cano struck out looking — the first of three whiffs for him on the night. Dustin Ackley also struck out to strand runners at the corners in the fifth.
Seattle threatened in the ninth when Kyle Seager and Endy Chavez singled, but closer Rafael Soriano retired James Jones on a game-ending grounder for his 30th save in 35 attempts.
"Generally against pitchers that good, you don't get multiple chances," interim Mariners manager Trent Jewett said. "We had them. We didn't capitalize."
Werth gave the Nationals an early lead with a two-run homer in the first off Roenis Elias, who got the ball after Chris Young was pushed back to Monday. Elias (9-12) recovered to last six innings for the first time since June 28. He allowed three runs — two earned — and six hits.
Ackley's 10th home run of the season chased Strasburg. Ackley was drafted No. 2 overall in 2009 — directly behind the Washington phenom.
"He's got good stuff," Ackley said. "The changeup he's got is pretty devastating to lefties."
Strasburg, who walked none, has allowed one run in three of his past four starts. Still, Nationals manager Matt Williams thought this was the most important start of the year for Strasburg after he gave up five runs in four innings last time out.
"Just the fact that he had two good ones and then a little bit of a clunker, and tonight to come back and answer, for him is important," Williams said. "For him, it's just that if he throws it where he wants to, he can be dominant out there. Tonight he was really, really good."
Anthony Rendon had an RBI single in the fifth for the NL East leaders.
"I just stuck to the game plan. I just kept executing pitches," Strasburg said. "Let them hit my best stuff."
Mariners: Jewett said OF Chris Denorfia (stiff neck) is a little banged up, but was available off the bench.
Nationals: Despite hitting two home runs Friday, catcher Wilson Ramos did not start behind the plate. Williams said that was partly to lighten the workload for Ramos and limit the wear and tear on him. Ramos was the DH.
Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma tries to bounce back in the series finale Sunday after allowing five runs over 2 1-3 innings at Boston in his most recent start.
Nationals RHP Tanner Roark looks to allow three runs or fewer for the fifth straight start.
Elias has allowed his fair share of baserunners, including 12 walks in his last three starts, but has been adept at finding a way out of jams. The left-hander has induced a team-leading 20 double plays, including two on Saturday.