Corey Kluber fired eight outstanding innings to spoil Stephen Strasburg's return to the mound and lead the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 victory in the finale of a three-game interleague series at Progressive Field.
Sidelined since May 31 with a strained lat muscle, Strasburg (3-6) was limited to just five innings and 82 pitches upon being activated from the disabled list prior to the contest. The ace righty yielded only one hit -- Carlos Santana's RBI single in the bottom of the fourth -- while walking four in a solid effort.
Kluber (5-4) was better, however, pitching out of several jams and striking out eight without a walk before turning the game over to Vinny Pestano, who tossed a scoreless ninth to close out Cleveland's fourth win in five games.
"He just completely kept his composure and executed his pitches with all that traffic out there," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kluber. "That was very impressive."
The Nationals stranded seven runners -- five at either second or third base -- on the afternoon while going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Anthony Rendon had three of Washington's seven hits and Jayson Werth finished 2-for-3 in the loss, the Nationals' second of the set.
Strasburg struggled a bit with his command early on, issuing two of his walks during a scoreless opening inning before retiring the side in order over the next two frames. He walked Jason Kipnis for a second time with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but couldn't escape without any damage on this occasion.
Kipnis proceeded to steal second before Santana delivered Cleveland's first hit of the day, a sharp single up the middle that broke the scoreless deadlock.
"I thought he had good stuff but he just didn't have his command," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg. "He threw a lot of pitches in five innings, actually we wanted to hold him to 75 [pitches]."
Washington had a golden opportunity to move in front during the top of the fourth, as Rendon led off with a single and reached third when Tribe third baseman John McDonald threw errantly on a force attempt after fielding Ryan Zimmerman's grounder.
Kluber was up to the challenge, though, striking out Adam LaRoche, Werth and Ian Desmond in succession to keep it a 0-0 game.
The right-hander worked out of another jam in the sixth, which began with consecutive singles by Denard Span and Rendon that placed runners at the corners with none out. Zimmerman struck out, however, and Kluber got LaRoche to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Washington made another bid to score in the seventh, with Werth doubling down the right-field line to start things off and the Nationals loading the bases with no out on a hit batter and a bunt single.
The Nats again came up empty, as Steve Lombardozzi was doubled off first on Jhonathan Solano's line drive and Roger Bernadina grounded harmlessly to short for the third out.
Cleveland was able to create some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth, with Michael Bourn coming through with a double off Craig Stammen and later coming home on Kipnis' sacrifice fly.