Stephen Strasburg did not have his best stuff in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves, his curveball did not have the usual break or precision and his changeup kept finding its way into the dirt. But despite not being sharp, the Nats’ ace did all he could to put his team into position to win. And if it weren’t for a two-out throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman in the fourth inning, he may have kept Atlanta off the board altogether.

Strasburg’s pitch count was high early on, but he had the Braves on the ropes in the fourth with two outs and nobody on. He induced a weak grounder by Justin Upton towards Zimmerman who rushed the routine throw and missed Adam LaRoche at first by several feet. It was Zimmerman’s second throwing error in as many games and once again proved a deciding factor in the team’s loss.

The next batter, Evan Gattis, promptly took a high fastball deep into left-center over the visitor’s bullpen for a two-run shot. The Braves never looked back on their way to winning the second of this weekend’s three game series.

“I should have set my feet, that’s why it’s so frustrating,” Zimmerman said. “That’s why it’s so frustrating, I had more time and I should have just set my feet and made a strong throw like I’ve been doing all year on those balls.”

Zimmerman shuffled his feet as he threw, perhaps due to Upton’s speed closing the window at first, but he scooped the grounder quickly and probably had more time.

“It’s unfortunate they capitalized on it and it became a big part of the game, but it happens. That’s part of the game,” he said.

Zimmerman insists the throw had nothing to do with his surgery-repaired right shoulder which was something he had to work his way back from this offseason.

“I feel fine, it’s part of the game. I wish I wasn’t going to make any errors, I wish I could go every single game and be perfect, but I don’t think anyone’s ever done that,” he said.”

“I’ll make more, unfortunately today they took advantage of it.”

Nats manager Davey Johnson suggested it could still be a part of his road back from the shoulder injury.

“He had a major problem in there, they corrected it and he’s rebuilding it, it’s just going to take time,” he said. “I think he’s throwing a lot better, I know he feels a lot better about it.”

Johnson also attributed Zimmerman’s throwing problems to playing deeper in the infield, something he is adjusting to this season.

Strasburg served up the subsequent homer to Gattis, but did not take the earned runs because of Zimmerman’s error. Nonetheless, he got bitten by the Braves’ rookie who has tremendous power and the advantage of a slim scouting report.