After a rough start, Stephen Strasburg appears to have found his form for the Washington Nationals.
The right-hander looks to win a third straight decision Tuesday night while trying to remain successful against the host Arizona Diamondbacks, who hope Bronson Arroyo can continue his recent dominance.
Strasburg (3-2, 3.42 ERA) went 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his first four starts but is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in the last four. After not allowing an earned run over 13 innings in his previous two outings, Strasburg gave up two in the first and lasted 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
''He's as good as anybody on any given day. We've also seen that anybody can get beat on any given day," Washington manager and ex-Diamondback Matt Williams said. "We want to get him to that point where he can finish that eighth inning, too. That's important for him.''
Last week's performance marked the first time this season Strasburg pitched into the eighth.
''He's our horse,'' Williams said. "We don't want to do that every time. But in a game like (Wednesday), he's got the lead and (you) want to show confidence in him that we're willing to send him back out there to protect that lead."
Strasburg is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four starts versus Arizona (15-26), which hopes Arroyo (3-2, 4.89) can extend his stretch of 14 1-3 scoreless innings from the last two outings.
The 37-year-old right-hander went 1-2 with a 9.50 ERA in his first four starts but is 2-0 with an 0.87 ERA in his last three. He yielded an unearned run and five hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday.
"He's throwing the ball (well)," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's been trending in this direction."
Arroyo, however, is 0-3 with a 5.70 ERA in his last five starts against the Nationals that's followed a three-start stretch during which he went 2-0 with an 0.78 ERA versus Washington.
After totaling four runs while being swept in a three-game set at Oakland, the Nationals (20-18) rallied for a 6-5 win at Arizona on Monday. Kevin Frandsen and Danny Espinosa each hit solo homers in the ninth off closer Addison Reed as Washington won for the third time in nine contests.
"It's good win for us," Williams said. "We needed that."
Espinosa is 4 for 31 (.129) in his last nine games, but three of those hits left the park. He's 6 for 11 with two doubles and a home run versus Arroyo.
Arizona's Aaron Hill had three hits Monday after going 0 for 12 while the Diamondbacks took two of three from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. He's 1 for 9 with a homer versus Strasburg.
Teammate Paul Goldschmidt is 3 for 9 against Strasburg, but 1 for 15 in four contests after batting .450 with four homers and seven RBIs in his previous nine.
Though Reed has yielded five runs and eight hits, including three homers, over 4 2-3 innings in his last five appearances, Gibson is sticking with the right-hander.
"There is not controversy here. He is our closer," said Gibson of Reed, who is 11 of 13 in save chances but has a 5.03 ERA.