D-backs struggle early in 6-2 loss to Nationals

Sarah Sachs/ Arizona Diamondbacks

PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t get off to a great start Sunday.

The Washington Nationals jumped out to an early lead in the first inning and never looked back in dealing the D-backs a 6-2 loss in front of 32,720 fans at Chase Field.

“Offensively they came out and caught us with a quick punch and staggered us,” D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said. “Obviously they got the best of Robbie (Ray) in that first inning. The four runs were very well hit balls, some balls that were some mistakes over the plate.”

Arizona starter Robbie Ray yielded four runs in the first, highlighted by Washington’s Brian Goodwin’s leadoff home run to centerfield. Ray took the loss, falling to 9-5 on the season, as he gave up four earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in five innings of work.

“He did a nice job of making some adjustments and making some pitches (after the first inning),” Lovullo said. “… The line score looked a little bit worse than it actually was. If you eliminate that first inning, the outing wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

Offensively, the D-backs left 11 runners on base and didn’t tally their second hit of the game until the bottom of the fifth on a pinch-hit single by Chris Iannetta.

Arizona finished just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“Offensively, I know there were a lot of opportunities with runners in scoring position that we were unable to cash in on,” Lovullo said. “What I’ve been saying all year long is these guys have done it at a pretty amazing pace and when they don’t do it, it’s pretty startling. Hitting with runners in scoring position is a difficult task – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The fact that the D-backs couldn’t find production on offense was even more surprising considering Washington’s starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg exited the game after pitching just two innings. However, Strasburg was taken out of the game only as a precaution.

“It’s not an intense pain in a specific area,” Strasburg said. “It’s just kind of general tightness and I’m having a tough time to get loose out there. The All-Star break kind of messed up it for me throwing-wise and treatment-wise. My arm is just taking a little while to get back in the swing of things, unfortunately.”

The Nationals were still able to hold on though, as five pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and four walks. Joe Blanton picked up the win for Washington.

On a side note, the newest D-back J.D. Martinez made his home debut as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. He drew a walk, but received a nice ovation from the crowd.

“It was a theme coming home that everyone wanted to see him play,” Lovullo said. “I was as anxious to see him play and excited about the moment.”

Arizona (56-42) welcomes the Atlanta Braves to town today to start a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m.