WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg set a Major League record for strikeouts in a pitcher's first three starts on Friday. But that didn't mean a whole lot to him.
What meant more to the right-hander was the fact that the White Sox handed him and his teammates a tough 2-1 loss in 11 innings before a sellout crowd of 40,325 at Nationals Park.
Strasburg struck out 10 and didn't walk any in seven innings -- after walking five in his previous start -- to give him 32 K's in his first three starts. That erased the previous record of 29, set by J.R. Richard, but the loss tempered any enthusiasm Strasburg felt.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Strasburg made it clear after the game that setting strikeout records doesn't mean much to him.
"That wasn't a goal of mine," Strasburg said. "It's never going to be a goal of mine. My goal is to go out there and help the team win. It's all about wins and losses at this level. You can go out there and strike everybody out, but at the end of the day, if you don't keep your team within striking distance, then what does that all matter?"
Richard set the old mark when he was beginning his career with Houston late in the 1971 season. The 6-foot-8 right-hander was a powerful pitcher who twice struck out more than 300 in a season, but his career was tragically cut short early after he suffered a stroke in 1980.
Strasburg's eighth strikeout, when he got Alexei Ramirez swinging on a 92-mph changeup for the second out in the top of the fifth, put him on top.
Strasburg put up a third consecutive good start en route to setting his record, giving up just one run on four hits in seven innings. He has now totaled the 32 strikeouts and just five walks in 19 1/3 innings pitched. He also has a 1.86 ERA.
All of this began with his Major League debut on June 8, against the Pirates, in which he fanned 14 in a seven-inning stint. He then struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings on Sunday in Cleveland, and that roll continued in this game.
"He was outstanding," said manager Jim Riggleman. "He just really threw the ball great ... maybe every bit as good as when he threw against Pittsburgh. He was breezing."
Most K's in first three starts
Strasburg found himself in some trouble early. Juan Pierre led off with an infield single, and Omar Vizquel followed with a bloop double down the right-field line. Alex Rios' RBI groundout gave the White Sox a one-run lead after just three batters.
But Strasburg settled down after that and struck out nine of the next 15 batters. Chicago starter Gavin Floyd ended the team's hitless streak with a single to lead off the sixth.
Strasburg just keeps impressing more people with each start. Add the White Sox to that list.
"When you face [him] you have to straight-up battle, throw all kinds of techniques out the window," Pierre said. "[You] get something decent and try to put a good swing on it. He's pretty nasty, for sure."
The effort Strasburg gave made the loss hard to swallow for Washington.
Chicago pushed across a run in the top of the 11th off Drew Storen (2-1), Washington's other first-round pick in last year's Draft. Pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a Pierre sacrifice, advanced to third on a Vizquel groundout and scored on Rios' infield single.
"Any time someone throws like that, obviously you want to get a win for him and get a win for the team," said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. "With him on the mound and the way he threw, it's a tough [loss]."
. So even though he's probably a good bet to set a few records during his career, those things don't interest Strasburg. He just wants to do what he can to help the Nationals win.
"Right now I'm trying to go out there and answer the bell every time out and put the team in position to win the ballgame," he said. "That's my goal right now."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.