"You have to play a lot better than we did to beat [Strasburg]," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's got good stuff, obviously. I thought we had a pretty good approach. We had a lot of three-ball counts against him. He's a tall order, though, and it wasn't in the cards for us tonight."
With the loss, the club moved to 1-39 on the season when scoring two runs or fewer. Overall, the D-backs have lost five of their last seven after winning 11 of 14.
"Just didn't have a lot of energy. We have to work on that," Gibson said. "We'll try to get some energy back tomorrow."
Strasburg allowed one run on one hit while striking out six, but three walks helped force his pitch count up to 104 and he left after six innings.
"I wish I went out there and threw strikes, but it just didn't work out," Strasburg said. "I was definitely throwing a lot of fastballs early, trying to get them to swing the bat. I didn't really show [my curveball] early, so I knew that third time through the lineup, that was a pitch they haven't seen, so I wanted to mix it in a little bit more."
Working on a no-hitter two outs into the fourth inning, a nine-minute delay after home-plate umpire Dale Scott was injured caused Strasburg's back to stiffen on the mound.
"It was tough; I've never experienced anything like that," Strasburg said. "[My back] got a little stiff, especially standing out there for a little bit. I kind of felt it when I reached for the ball early on while covering first base. It happens. I wanted to go out there and grind through it."
Chris Johnson, making his Chase Field debut after being traded from Houston on July 29, broke up Strasburg's no-hitter with a single later in the inning, tying the game at 1 and running his RBI total with the D-backs to 17 over 11 games.
"We tried to be selective, but his stuff got the better of his today," Johnson said. "He's real good. We knew we'd have to battle because when he's on his game, it's going to be tough."
The Nationals gave Strasburg a lead in the third courtesy of a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly to drive home Steve Lombardozzi, who tripled one at-bat earlier.
After Johnson tied the game, Ryan Zimmerman answered right back in the fifth by launching a two-run, two-out blast to left field, putting the Nationals back ahead, 3-1. Michael Morse added a solo tape-measure shot to center field an inning later, signaling the end of D-backs starter Trevor Cahill's evening.
The 24-year-old right-hander didn't pitch terribly, but the two home runs marred his six innings, as Cahill gave up four runs on six hits.
"I couldn't put them away when I got ahead. They made me work," Cahill said. "It's one of those nights, I made a couple mistakes and they made me pay for it. They've got a good team. I knew it'd be tough. I knew I'd have to pitch pretty well. It's unfortunate I wasn't able to do that."
Since the beginning of July, Cahill has served up nine long balls. He had given up just six in the first three months of the season.
As the D-backs continued to go down with little resistance at the plate against Strasburg and the Washington bullpen, the Nationals added a run in the seventh inning and four in the ninth.