(Sports Network) - Starter Craig Stammen was the odd-man out when the Nationals decided to bring Stephen Strasburg to the majors. Stammen gets another chance at showing he belongs tonight when he leads Washington in the second contest of a three-game set with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Stammen hasn't pitched since June 6, when he gave up just one run on seven hits in a no-decision to the Reds. Despite one of his best performances of the season, the right-hander was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Strasburg.
The 26-year-old Stammen returns to the rotation tonight, however, aiming to improve on his 1-2 mark and 5.43 earned run average this season. He has had his share of struggles on the road, where he is 0-2 with an 8.13 ERA in six starts in 2010.
Stammen has faced the Braves just once before, allowing two runs over six innings of a no-decision on Aug. 12.
He'll follow Strasburg, who allowed four runs -- three earned -- over 6 1/3 innings of last night's 5-0 loss to the Braves, the Nationals' fifth setback in a row overall. Strasburg fell to 2-2 on the season despite striking out another seven batters, lifting his season total to 48 in five starts, and has gotten just one run of support in his last three games.
"The kid's good, he's got good stuff," said Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who got the win with seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball. "He's as advertised, but we were able to go out there, scratch and get some (runs) late. I felt really good out there. You're not pitching against the other pitcher, you're pitching against the other lineup. It was a fun game to watch for the fans."
Yunel Escobar, Gregor Blanco and pinch-hitter Omar Infante all singled in runs in the seventh inning for the Braves, who have won three of four overall and 17 of their last 19 home games. They also lifted their lead over the Mets for first place in the National League to 1 1/2 games.
"Not good enough to win the game, period," Strasburg said. "Hudson went out there and pitched very well, went through seven innings. It was a really hard loss for us. For the most part I did well enough to keep the team in the ball game, but things aren't working for us right now. We have to keep our heads up and keep working hard."
Strasburg did not face fellow rookie Jason Heyward as the Braves power-hitting outfielder landed on the disabled list due to a bone bruise on his left thumb.
Chipper Jones went 1-for-3 at the plate for Atlanta to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games. He is batting .385 (15-for-39) in that span with two homers and 10 RBI.
Without Heyward, the Braves will try to lend some offensive support to Derek Lowe, who did not allow a run in a start for the first time this season last time out but still walked away without a decision. The 37-year-old limited the White Sox to five hits over seven scoreless innings on Thursday, but the Braves lost a 2-0 game.
"That was probably the best game that I've pitched [this year], not just because of the results, but because of the situations that were present," said Lowe on Atlanta's website.
Lowe, 37, is 9-5 with a 4.42 ERA this year and 6-2 with a 3.81 ERA in eight at home. He is 6-4 with three saves and a 3.68 ERA in 18 career outings versus the Nationals, 12 of those starts.
Though these clubs have split four meetings so far this year, the Nationals have still won six of the last eight matchups.