Nationals send Strasburg to hill versus Rockies

( - Now that Bryce Harper is back in the fold after 57 games, what the Washington Nationals would like is for the real Stephen Strasburg to please stand up.

Strasburg gets another chance to return to staff ace form on Tuesday night when the Nationals host the Colorado Rockies in game two of a three-game series at Nationals Park.

Harper had been shelved with a torn left thumb ligament before returning and chipping in a hit in Washington's series-opening win on Monday.

The Nationals have won three straight games and eight of 10 at home.

"It's a strong lineup and I don't think there's too many opposing pitchers out there that want to see it," Ian Desmond said. "It was nice to have Bryce back."

Strasburg, meanwhile, is another story.

He's winless in his last three starts, which have yielded a pair of losses and a 7.27 earned run average that was especially bloated by a 4 2/3-inning stint against Milwaukee on Wednesday, as he allowed eight hits and seven earned runs.

Strasburg's been much closer to typical lights-out form at home, though, as evidenced by a 5-0 record in eight starts with a 2.21 ERA there since he lost his initial outing of the season.

In three career starts against the Rockies, he is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA.

Lefty Christian Friedrich gets the call to oppose Strasburg for Colorado while searching for his first win of 2014.

He was dinged for five runs in a 7-4 loss to Milwaukee a day after Strasburg's ill-fated outing last week. His previous start of the season, also against the Brewers, saw him allow nine runs.

"He's got good stuff; he's got a good fastball and a real good breaking ball," manager Walt Weiss said. "He got a lot of swings-and-misses tonight. There's no doubt he's got good stuff."

His lone career meeting with Washington came in 2012, when he took a 12-5 loss after allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Colorado finished last month with just two wins in 14 games and hasn't won a game without scoring at least five runs in 34 tries. The starting rotation has a 7.73 ERA in the last 15 games.

"It's frustrating for sure," second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "And you just have to keep going. It just takes one game to turn it around, and hopefully that comes sooner rather than later."

On Monday, Desmond stroked the go-ahead three-run double during the sixth inning and Harper had an RBI in his return to the lineup as the Nationals topped Colorado, 7-3.

Harper singled home a run in the fourth and scored on Desmond's hit down the left field line.

Jordan Zimmermann (6-4) allowed seven hits and two runs, and fanned five over six innings to move his record to 5-0 in seven lifetime starts against the Rockies.

Ryan Zimmerman, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, drove in a run and scored twice. Adam LaRoche launched a second-deck homer in the seventh inning in Washington's third straight victory.

Yohan Flande (0-1) surrendered six hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings in his second major league start.

Troy Tulowitzki knocked in a run and scored twice for the Rockies. Washington took four of seven meetings from Colorado last season.