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TEX@WSH: Strasburg strikes out nine over six innings

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg faced substantial adversity in the top of the second inning during his last start on Friday against the Rangers.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre led off with a booming double off the center-field wall. Two strikeouts later, Strasburg had a chance to end the inning on a routine chopper off the bat of Leonys Martin, but he couldn't handle the bouncing ball. Martin was safe at first and Beltre advanced to third.

Strasburg -- who will face A.J. Burnett on Wednesday night in the second game of a three-game series against the Phillies -- went on to surrender back-to-back singles to second baseman Rougned Odor and pitcher Colby Lewis to give Texas an early 2-0 lead.

But Strasburg was able to get out of the second inning without any further damage and settle in over his final four innings, which is something he struggled with early in his career. Typically, an egregious error like that would have derailed Strasburg's outing. Instead, he retired 12 of the final 16 batters he faced, didn't surrender another run and finished with nine strikeouts in a 9-2 Nationals victory.

"I've got to trust the pitch," Strasburg said after the game. "Just execute it, and I think they'll get themselves out more times than not."

Strasburg has now gone eight starts without allowing more than three earned runs. Burnett has not had the same fortune recently, though. The right-hander has taken losses in three of his past five starts and hasn't given up fewer than three runs in any of those outings.

"I've got some work to do," Burnett said.

Nationals: Zimmerman returns to lineup in series opener

Ryan Zimmerman returned from the disabled list Tuesday and started against the Phillies in the series opener. It was his first Major League start in left field.

In his first at-bat, Zimmerman cranked a line-drive double down the left-field line. In the top of the fourth, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley hit a flare to shallow left field. Zimmerman made a solid read and smooth running catch for his first putout.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Zimmerman connected on his second double of the night, down 0-2 in the count, scoring Denard Span from second.

Zimmerman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and made two catches in left field. Nate McLouth replaced Zimmerman in the eighth inning.

"I've just been fortunate enough to get a lot of at-bats at a young age and kind of learn my swing," Zimmerman said. "Just not trying to do too much when you first come back, I think that's the big thing. People try and make up for the time that they've lost. And if you try and do that, you're going to dig yourself into a hole. You've just got to stay within yourself and trust what you've done for years." 

Phillies: Ryno calls another team meeting

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg called a team meeting before Tuesday's game.

The team is 9-18 since May 4, which is the worst mark in the National League in that span.

"It was a serious meeting," said Sandberg, who held a similar meeting last month at Citi Field. "And it was a sense of urgency right now. It's important right now."

But will it help?

"We're going to find out," Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd said. "Meetings don't get teams going. Players have to go out there and play. We've got to be ready."

Worth noting

• The Phillies optioned right-hander Phillippe Aumont and recalled Ethan Martin from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Martin opened the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury.

• The Phillies signed right-hander Jason Marquis to a Minor League contract. He will report to extended spring camp in Clearwater, Fla.

• The Nationals scored seven runs Tuesday in the series-opening victory over the Phillies, improving the team's record to 24-2 when it scores more than four runs.

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