Hitting lowlight: Liriano is having an outstanding season, there's no question about that. But it's hard to really judge opposing pitchers these days because the Nationals lineup is so anemic. So it was again tonight, with this group (minus Harper and Desmond) completely shut down for eight innings. They had only three opportunities with men in scoring position, failing to produce in all three and leaving them 6-for-81 in that situation over their last 13 games. Yes, Werth homered in the ninth off Justin Wilson, leaving the veteran right fielder red-hot. But that was too little, too late for a Nationals lineup that has truly hit rock bottom.
Pitching highlight: What more can you say about Strasburg, who was absolutely brilliant yet once again was in no way rewarded for his efforts? He did make one mistake: a fat, 96-mph fastball to Alvarez in the top of the second that the Pirates cleanup hitter crushed over the right-center field fence. Otherwise, Strasburg was as good as he has ever been. He didn't allow a hit after the second inning. He didn't issue any walks. He struck out 12, the first time he's cracked double-digits this season. And he completed eight innings for the third time in his career, all this season. Here's the most-impressive stat: This was the fourth time in 65 career starts Strasburg has struck out at least 10 batters without issuing a walk. Two of those starts have come against the Pirates: tonight's game and Strasburg's June 8, 2010 big-league debut.
Key stat: The last time a D.C. ballclub was no hit: June 10, 1966, when the Indians' Sonny Siebert did it to the Senators at Cleveland Stadium.
Up next: The series concludes with a 12:35 p.m. Thursday matinee at Nationals Park. Gio Gonzalez looks to continue his prolonged hot streak on the mound against the Pirates' A.J. Burnett.