WASHINGTON — No-hit bid or not, Washington manager Dusty Baker was taking out Stephen Strasburg in the seventh inning.
“It’s tough taking a guy out of a no-hitter, but we have to think about the future and where he had come from off the DL,” Baker said. “You just think: We’re going to need him.'”
Strasburg left after 6 2/3 innings and 109 pitches, and Ramon Cabrera singled against Matt Belisle leading off the eighth for Cincinnati’s first hit in the Washington Nationals’ 12-1 rout of the Reds on Sunday.
Strasburg has won a franchise-record 14 straight decisions and is the first NL starter to begin a season 11-0 since San Diego’s Andy Hawkins in 1985. He did not disagree with Baker’s decision to remove him.
“I understand where he’s coming from,” Strasburg said. “There’s more important things, hopefully, down the road for this team.”
Activated from the disabled list before the game after missing two starts due to an upper back strain, Strasburg (11-0) was just five pitches shy of his highest pitch count this season. He left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 37.328 at Nationals Park and was replaced by Blake Treinen, who got Billy Hamilton to ground out.
“I felt pretty good,” Strasburg said. “It was weird, warming up. My changeup was the only pitch I could really locate, and then I couldn’t find the strike zone with it today, but the curveball and slider were really good.”
Making his first appearance since June 15, Strasburg struck out five and walked four — including two of the Reds’ first three batters. He then retired eight in a row, needing only eight pitches in each of the second and third innings.
Danny Espinosa homered twice for the Nationals, including his second grand slam in four games, and Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Drew hit solo homers.
Cincinnati has lost 10 of 12. John Lamb (1-5) allowed eight runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Ramos homered in the second and finished 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBIs. Espinosa homered after Lamb walked three straight in the fourth, giving Washington a 5-0 lead.
Espinosa also hit a solo drive against Keyvius Sampson in the seventh, going deep back-to-back with Rendon for his team-leading 18th homer. Espinosa finished the series 7 for 18 (.389) with five homers and 15 RBIs.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “It’s crazy. I’m just out there having fun and I’m just staying with my work every day and it’s paying off. I couldn’t dream anything like this could ever happen.”
Harper led off the fifth with his 17th homer. Drew hit a solo homer in the eighth, giving the Nationals a season-high six long balls in the game.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (right shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 15-day DL. He labored through 5 1/3 innings against the Reds on Saturday allowing a season-high 10 hits and four earned runs with a noticeable drop in velocity.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (9-5) is to face the visiting Brewers in the opener of a three-game series. Scherzer went 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in June. He took the loss in a 5-3 defeat in Milwaukee on June 24.
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