Stephen Strasburg was stunned. He crouched next to the mound. He stared back at the left field bleachers where Donnie Murphy’s game-tying two-run home run had just landed. Strasburg was two strikes away from firing his second complete game in three starts. Instead he hung a 1-1 curveball to Murphy who deposited the pitch into the glove of a Cubs fan in the first row of the stands to tie the game at 4.

In a Washington Nationals season overflowing with squandered opportunities and low moments this certainly felt like one of the worst. Strasburg was lifted Rafael Soriano came in for the final out of the inning and the game lurched into extras.

Strasburg’s anguish and disappointment started to fade. The teams traded three innings worth of zeroes then the Nationals scratched out a run in the 13th inning when Chad Tracy’s dribbler scored Denard Span. Drew Storen came on to nail down the 5-4 win with an inning-ending double play.

Four innings prior Strasburg took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with his pitch count at only 96. He was well rested having faced only seven batters in his previous start a wild appearance in which he was ejected in the second inning in Atlanta for hitting a batter and then throwing behind another. For the better portion of eight innings Strasburg was dominant. He had an early lead and mowed through the Cubs lineup.

Then he unraveled in the ninth. With one out he gave up a single to catcher Dionner Navarro. The next batter right fielder Nate Schierholtz rolled over a change-up toward second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. He and shortstop Anthony Rendon tried to turn two but Schierholtz beat the relay. He then stole second without a throw.