Strasburg goes 5 innings, allows 2 runs

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Stephen Strasburg finally has an earned run average in Triple-A ball.

Strasburg, who had not allowed a run in winning his first three starts for the Syracuse Chiefs, went five innings Monday night against the Toledo Mud Hens, allowing five hits and two runs, one earned. He threw 52 pitches, 36 for strikes, did not walk anyone and struck out five, departing with the game tied 2-all.

The right-hander had allowed only four hits and no runs in 18 1-3 innings in his first three starts. In 45 1-3 innings in eight starts between Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, he has struck out 54 and yielded just 22 hits and 10 walks. He has an overall ERA of 0.99 — 0.39 with the Chiefs.

Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 amateur draft by the Washington Nationals, was finally touched for an unearned run in the third, ending his scoreless streak at 20 1-3 innings at the minors' highest level. Deik Scram hit a hard grounder over first base and down the right-field line for a triple and scored on a passed ball.

In his previous start last Wednesday in Rochester, Strasburg allowed three hits and struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings. He started strong again on a picture-perfect night with temperatures in the low 80s, breezing through the first inning on seven pitches.

Will Rhymes and Carlos Guillen put the ball in play on the first pitch, and both hit soft fly balls to the outfield before Strasburg caught Scott Sizemore looking at a 2-2 curve to end the inning.

Jeff Frazier singled to center with one out in the second for Toledo, hitting an 81 mph curve up the middle on a 1-1 offering. Strasburg then struck out Casper Wells with an 83 mph curve after five straight pitches registered 96 mph or faster on the Alliance Bank Stadium radar gun.

Brent Dlugach was retired on a comebacker to end the inning.

Kevin Mench was ejected after a called third strike in the bottom of the third and Chiefs manager Trent Jewett followed him to the clubhouse after a lengthy tirade directed at plate umpire Alan Porter.

Strasburg seemed distracted by the delay as he warmed up for the fourth, and the Mud Hens took advantage. Guillen led off with a line single to right, and after Ryan Strieby struck out swinging at an 81 mph curve, Frazier lined a double down the left-field line and Wells followed with an RBI single to left to tie the game at 2. All three balls were hit well.

Strasburg then settled down, striking out Dlugach looking at a 95 mph fastball over the inside corner and getting Scram on a liner to shortstop Pedro Lopez, who made a nifty diving catch to his right.

The Mud Hens went down in order in the fifth as Strasburg needed just eight pitches to retire the side, getting Sizemore on a fly to center on a 98 mph fastball to end it.

Strasburg, who signed a $15.1 million, four-year contract with the Nationals, is expected to make one more start for the Chiefs before being promoted to Washington.

Strasburg was not very happy when he was pulled, walking off the field with his head down.

A crowd of 13,288 showed up, the second-largest in franchise history, behind only the 13,766 that turned out for his Triple-A debut on May 7.