DENVER -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg turned in his worst outing of the season as the Rockies jumped him for nine runs en route to a 12-10 victory Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field.
The Rockies struck for seven runs in the first inning, including a bases-clearing double from outfielder Gerardo Parra, who had four RBIs on the day. Before his pinch-hit double Tuesday night, Parra was hitting .182 since returning from the disabled list after a left high-ankle sprain. Catcher Tony Wolters collected three hits, including a double and a homer, to continue his hot streak since the All-Star break (16-for-37, .432 batting average).
A matchup of Strasburg, a two-time All-Star, and Rockies talented rookie righty Jon Gray figured to be a pitching duel. Instead, it was a 3-hour, 52-minute affair in which 13 pitchers participated and all but five of them gave up runs.
"They square off 20 times, and that's probably the one that something like that would happen," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The Rockies, who peeked at playoff contention the early part of this month, won the last two in the series and have consecutive wins for the first time since Aug. 2-3.
"You'd like for it to be a little easier than that after a seven-run first … but it's a big win," Weiss said.
The Nationals allowed a season-high 12 runs on a day manager Dusty Baker came in counting on a deep outing from Strasburg. But the starter was not sharp from the outset and allowed a career-high nine runs before he was removed from the game with two outs in the second inning.
"Couldn't get anybody out. I don't know," Strasburg said. "It felt pretty good coming out of the hand. Looking back on the tape, I feel like they hit some good pitches. Just didn't have it today."
After falling into an early hole, Washington battled back to score at least one run in seven of nine innings, including a two-run home run from Bryce Harper in the fifth inning, which traveled 461 feet from home plate (the Nationals' longest homer of the year) according to Statcast™.
"We were one key hit away from tying that game up," Baker said. "I looked over at their dugout and they didn't feel comfortable at all, but you never feel comfortable here. Today was a typical Coors Field day."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The left hand of fate: Lefty batters carried a .187 batting average against Strasburg into Wednesday. But Charlie Blackmon doubled to open the first and extended his hit streak to 12 games. By the time Strasburg was gone, lefties had torched him -- 6-for-10 with three doubles, a triple and two walks. Parra doubled in three runs in the first and tripled in a run in the second, and Wolters doubled in the first.
"We know Strasburg is a great pitcher. He was struggling today," Parra said. "We just swung at good pitches in the first inning, and we got him."
Short Strasburg: Wednesday marked Strasburg's third consecutive rough outing. He has now allowed 19 runs in his past 11 2/3 innings. In that span, his ERA has skyrocketed from 2.63 on Aug. 6 to 3.59 after Wednesday's game. Baker said he was not concerned that Strasburg was dealing with any injury issues, citing the fact that Strasburg's velocity is still normal.
"We're all human beings here," Strasburg said. "We all make mistakes. I don't need to change anything. I need to keep going, I need to keep grinding, and the odds are going to be in my favor. They just weren't today." More >
Not back yet: Gray had struggled in his previous two starts -- 15 runs (14 earned) on 16 hits -- and seemed ready to turn the corner with a spotless first inning. But the inability to put hitters away returned in a three-hit, two-run second inning. Gray departed after four innings and 96 pitches, making him ineligible for the win, which started a parade of dicey appearances by Rockies relievers. Only Boone Logan, who fanned Daniel Murphy and Harper in the eighth, escaped without giving up a run.
But Gray, who said he has received better results with the stuff he had Wednesday, could delight in his two-run double off Strasburg in the first.
"I'm just glad we won and we battled," Gray said. "Guys in the bullpen came into tough situations and got out. I'm glad we battled through and got the 'W.'"
Another early call to the 'pen: Baker called Colorado the toughest place to play in the Majors, because even a three-game series here can ruin a team's bullpen; Washington's bullpen threw 16 1/3 frames during the set. The Nationals are in the midst of a stretch where they play 20 consecutive games, but they did not have a starter make it past the fourth inning in any of their three matchups here. Gio Gonzalez had his start cut short by rain, while Max Scherzer (4 IP) and Strasburg each turned in their shortest outings of the season.
"It was the most challenging game we've had this year, to try and stay in the game," Baker said. "After awhile, the matchup isn't as important as who's fresh."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The seven-run first was the Rockies' highest first-inning output since they scored eight against the Dodgers on Sept. 17, 2014. Wednesday marked the seventh time the Rockies have scored seven or more runs in the bottom of the first in their history.
• Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu singled in his first at-bat to run his hit streak to eight at-bats and his on-base streak to 10 plate appearances before plate umpire Clint Fagan called a third strike against him in his second at-bat of the first inning. The hit streak was one at-bat shy of Andres Galarraga's 1993 club-record run. Current Rockies first-base coach Eric Young holds the record, having reached in 12 straight plate appearances in 1993. More >
• Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth reached base for the 45th consecutive game Wednesday, moving him just one game shy of the franchise record (Nats/Expos) for the longest streak in franchise history (Rusty Staub, 46, 1969-70). More >
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: The Nats begin a four-game series in Atlanta on Thursday night at 7:10 ET. They will start right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who is fresh off the best start of his young career against the Braves. He held them to one run in seven innings on Saturday.
Rockies: Rookie left-hander Tyler Anderson (4-4, 3.42 ERA) takes the mound to open a three-game set against the Cubs at 6:40 MT on Friday. Prior to being ejected after four innings in his last outing, he had tossed four straight quality starts and seven in his last eight.