(Sports Network) - Stephen Strasburg makes his third big league start this evening when the Washington Nationals open a three-game interleague set with the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park.
After an eye-popping debut that saw him strike out 14 batters in a win over the Pirates, the right-handed flame thrower beat the Indians on Sunday. Strasburg fanned eight while allowing a run and two hits over 5 1/3 innings. in that one before being lifted after walking consecutive batters to load the bases in the sixth.
Strasburg, whose remarkable start garnered him NL Player of the Week honors, is 2-0 with a 2.19 earned run average and has struck out 22 batters in just 12 1/3 innings. He will once again be on a fairly strict pitch count that manager Jim Riggleman said should be around the 100-pitch mark.
Washington could certainly use another big start from its 21-year-old phenom tonight, as it enters tonight's tilt on the heels of being swept by the Detroit Tigers following Thursday's 8-3 setback at Comerica Park.
Adam Dunn had a solo homer and RBI single for the Nationals, who have lost five of their last six after winning three in a row. Cristian Guzman added two hits, including a run-scoring single.
"When your record is what it is, that's who you are," Riggleman said about the team's struggles. "There's plenty of time to straighten that record out and play better baseball."
Luis Atilano (5-4), who brought a 4-1 record in six road starts this season into the contest, was roughed up for nine hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Chicago, meanwhile, will be a good test for Strasburg tonight, as it comes into this series red-hot, winning seven of its last eight and outscoring its opponents 48-20 in that time.
The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, as Juan Pierrehad two hits, scored twice and drove in a run in support of Mark Buehrle, helping Chicago to a 5-4 win.
Omar Vizquel and Carlos Quentin each had two hits, scored once and added a run batted in for the surging White Sox, who are still 6 1/2 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Buehrle (5-6) worked a sturdy 7 1/3 innings, yielding two runs on six hits while issuing one walk and striking out six to become the winningest pitcher in interleague history with 22 victories.
Bobby Jenks worked a perfect ninth to earn his 13th save, as Chicago knocked off the Pirates for the eighth time in the last nine meetings.
Tonight the White Sox turn to righty Gavin Floyd, who was brilliant against the Cubs on Sunday, but came away a loser in the 1-0 decision. Floyd surrendered just one run and three hits in eight innings, but still lost his third straight decision, dropping him to 2-7 to go along with a 5.64 ERA.
Floyd is 1-1 in four games (two starts) against Washington with a 4.74 ERA.
These two teams have not met since 2004 when the Washington franchise was still located in Montreal. The Expos took two of three in that set and also claimed two of three the previous time they met in 2002.