Stephen Strasburg lasts only three innings in Nats' loss

WASHINGTON -- A terrible outing might have earned Stephen Strasburg an additional start.

Strasburg matched his career low by lasting only three innings, allowing five runs Friday night in the Washington Nationals' 9-7, 10-inning loss to the Miami Marlins.

"To be honest with you, I think he just is thinking too much about the decision when we're going to shut him down," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "And he kind of wore it. He didn't like it. But that's the way it is."

Strasburg, 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA, allowed two runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third, giving up six hits -- including home runs to Giancarlo Stanton and Rob Brantly. He threw 67 pitches and was pinch hit for in the third.

In his first full season after elbow-ligament replacement surgery on Sept. 3, 2010, Strasburg has 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings.

"I didn't command the fastball, kept on getting behind in the counts," Strasburg said. "I wasn't able to use my other pitches effectively and they kept teeing off on me a little bit."

The Nationals, wanting to protect the arm of the 24-year-old right-hander, have said next Wednesday's start at the New York Mets likely will be his final appearance of the season, even though Washington is likely to see postseason baseball for the first time since the original Senators in 1933.

Johnson gave a cryptic answer when asked whether the short outing could prolong Strasburg's season.

"It might," Johnson said without elaborating.

Strasburg wouldn't comment on Johnson's curious answer.

"I'm going to focus on the next start," the pitcher said.

Johnson said Strasburg may be distracted by the shutdown talk.

"I can understand where he's at," he said. "And even in the conversations that I've had with him, he was having trouble sleeping, thinking about letting the guys down. So I understand his mood."

Jose Reyes tripled twice and drove in three runs for the Marlins, including a two-run triple in the 10th off Tyler Clippard (2-4) that made a winner of Chad Gaudin (3-1). Washington, which has the best record in the major leagues, lost for only the second time in 10 games.

Strasburg received a lengthy standing ovation from fans as he jogged out to the mound for what turned into a 23-pitch first inning.

Strasburg walked leadoff hitter Bryan Petersen, then got ahead of Reyes on an 0-2 count only to allow a single. Stanton singled down to third-base line to drive in a run, and Carlos Lee hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Ryan Zimmerman tied the score with a two-run homer off Jacob Turner in the bottom half, but Brantly homered with one out in the bottom half for a 3-2 lead.

Stanton hit his 31st homer in the third -- only the fourth two-homer game against Strasburg this season -- and Donovan Solano singled in a run for a 5-2 lead.

"Maybe we're not trying to do too much," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen about his team's recent success against one of the game's best pitchers. "We swing at strikes. We make him throw strikes the last couple of games because we're not chasing bad pitches."

Reyes tripled in a run off Zach Duke in the fourth.

"Tough game," Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "They put some good passes on the ball. There was nothing we could really do. It just felt like everything we threw up there they hit. Sometimes it goes like that."

Washington closed in the seventh on back-to-back RBI doubles by Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki off Carlos Zambrano, who didn't get an out, and a run-scoring error by second baseman Donovan Solano on pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi's infield single. And Michael Morse tied the score 6-6 with an eighth-inning homer off A.J. Ramos.

Reyes' second triple and Lee's second sacrifice fly built a 9-6 lead in the 10th. Morse singled in a run in the bottom half off Steve Cishek, who got his 13th save in 17 chances by striking out pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth to end the game with the bases loaded.

Game notes
Turner, acquired with Brantly from Detroit on July 23, allowed two runs and six hits over six innings. ... In 18 career games at Nationals Park, Stanton is batting .394 with nine HR and 18 RBIs. ... Zimmerman, who also tripled, extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Before the game, Washington honored the organization's player and pitcher of the year. 3b Matt Skole had 27 homers and 92 RBIs for Class A Hagerstown. RHP Nathan Karns went 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 24 games. ... Miami's Mark Buehrle faces fellow LHP Ross Detwiler on Saturday.