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Stephen Strasburg injures his right forearm in Washington Nationals' win over Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals' starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)
Washington Nationals' starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr) (H. Rumph Jr - AP)

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"He wanted to stay in the game," Riggleman said. "After the initial feeling that he felt, by the time we got out there, he said, 'I feel good. I don't even feel anything. Let me keep pitching.' We just didn't choose to do that."

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This latest setback could be far more concerning than those previous because of the flexor tendon's role in the pitching motion. The tendon attaches above the elbow, near the collateral ligament. If the tendon is torn, Strasburg probably would require surgery. That procedure, to cite one example, cost pitcher Ben Sheets all of the 2009 season and eventually contributed to him needing a ligament-replacement operation-commonly called Tommy John surgery-this month.

The quick exit significantly blunted a polished performance on all fronts for the Nationals, who wasted no time in giving Strasburg plenty of support. They almost batted around in their half of the first inning against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, scoring three runs before Strasburg set foot on the mound.

The barrage began when Ian Desmond singled and Adam Dunn walked. Ryan Zimmerman grounded to second for the second out, but Roger Bernadina and Adam Kennedy walked consecutively, scoring Desmond. Ivan Rodriguez delivered a single that added two more runs, and it appeared Strasburg would be at the plate before he threw his first pitch. No. 8 hitter Willie Harris, however, grounded to second to end the inning.

Washington continued its assault on Kendrick in the third, beginning with Zimmerman's leadoff double to deep center field. Bernadina singled to move Zimmerman to third, and Kennedy singled for a 4-0 lead. Rodriguez made it three straight singles, prompting a Phillies conference on the mound before Harris struck out with the bases loaded.

Moments later, Strasburg stepped inside the batter's box and took a sharp cut at the first pitch. He put a subsequent pitch in play with a roller Chase Utley scooped and delivered to shortstop Jimmy Rollins for the forceout at second. Rollins then tried to double-up Strasburg at first, but his throw wasn't in time, allowing Bernadina to score and giving Strasburg the first RBI of his big league career.

Bernadina added a three-run homer in the ninth off reliever Chad Durbin for the finishing touches on the Nationals' fourth win in their past 13 games for at least some good feeling on a night when the primary focus was the health of their young ace.

"We played good," Riggleman said. "Just a lot of good at-bats. A lot of good things happened out there tonight."

wangg@washpost.com sheinind@washpost.com


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