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WSH@ATL: Strasburg fans eight through six frames

Stephen Strasburg has his health. Now he just needs some good fortune.

Strasburg gave Nationals fans a scare in his last outing, Monday at Atlanta, shaking his right arm on the mound. But it turned out to be nothing serious, just some minor forearm irritation that won't prevent the righty from making his start on Saturday afternoon against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Strasburg will face Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke, looking to pull the Nationals even in the three-game series after the Pirates notched a 3-1 win on Friday night.

Washington's ace comes in riding a five-start winless streak. In his last four outings, he is 0-3 despite a 2.52 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 25 innings. The Nationals haven't helped, scoring 1.8 runs per Strasburg start, with a high of three.

Strasburg has faced some struggles early in games and with his efficiency, but his overall results have been strong. In that last start, he held the Braves to two runs over six innings, despite walking four.

"I think he pitched well," said catcher Kurt Suzuki. "Command probably wasn't where he'd like. He was able to get out of a couple of jams, but it was a tough one. His fastball command wasn't where he would want it but, overall, the results were pretty good."

One prominent task for Strasburg will be containing Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who has torched the Nationals in his career. McCutchen has a 16-game hitting streak and a lifetime .456 average against them, with 11 home runs, including one on Friday. He is only 1-for-5 against Strasburg, however.

Washington also has to deal with Locke, who comes in with 13 straight scoreless innings over his past two starts. The 25-year-old lefty had a 5.17 ERA before the streak, during which he has held the opposition to five hits and four walks, while striking out 10.

"Something had to change execution-wise," Locke said after his last outing. "Just getting ahead of guys, and let them put it into play somewhere and let the defense work."

Nationals: Zimmerman returns
• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was activated from the disabled list before Friday's game, with Anthony Rendon optioned back to Double-A Harrisburg. Zimmerman hadn't played since April 17 due to a strained left hamstring.

Following a one-game rehab stint with Class A Potomac, Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Friday to drop his season average to .211.

• Right fielder Jayson Werth was out of the lineup on Friday and is expected to miss the rest of the series. Werth, who has played once since Monday, is dealing with a tight left hamstring.

• Left fielder Bryce Harper is 2-for-20 over his past six games. A sixth-inning single on Friday snapped an 0-for-14 skid.

Pirates: Lineup to welcome back Snider
• Right fielder Travis Snider is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday, his first start since April 26. He has been dealing with tightness in his right side, although he has appeared in three games off the bench during that time.

Snider is hitting .347 with a .439 on-base percentage in 14 starts and has hit safely in 11 of his past 12.

• The Pirates called up 41-year-old Jose Contreras from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. The right-hander made six Minor League appearances in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and will pitch out of the bullpen.

"The only thing that drives me is wanting to win," Contreras said through an interpreter. "I'll do anything they want me to. I'll be the bat boy. This bullpen has already been doing very well, but there's no pressure on me. I want to contribute to the good job they're already doing."

Worth noting
• No Nationals player has ever faced Locke.

• Strasburg made his only start at PNC Park last year, striking out 13 and giving up one earned run in six innings. Before that, his only outing against the Pirates was his Major League debut on June 8, 2010, when he piled up 14 K's in seven innings. Comments