Stephen Strasburg dropped curves on three San Diego Padres in the first who couldn't do anything with his 78-81 mph bender. Everth Cabrera K'd looking at an 0-2 curve. Will Venable watched a 2-2 hook drop in for a called strike three and Chase Headley went down swinging at a 2-2 curve ball for out and K no.3 of the opening frame as Strasburg pitched around a two-out single by Carlos Quentin in a 15-pitch, 3 K top of the inning in the finale of the Washington Nationals' three-game weekend set with the NL West's 40-48 5th place Padres.
When Strasburg took the mound for a second time this afternoon in Nationals Park, the 24-year-old right-hander had a 1-0 lead after Denard Span singled, took second on a wild pitch, third on an Ian Desmond groundout and then scored on an opposite field single to left by Bryce Harper that got Washington out to an early lead on 22-year-old left-hander Robbie Erlin, who needed 23 pitches to get out of the home-half of the first this afternoon in the nation's capital.
Denard Span sprinted around the center field grass tracking down the first two outs of the top of the second on line drives by Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks. Stephen Strasburg hit Nick Hundley with a 2-0 fastball to put the Padres' catcher on with two out and San Diego second baseman Alexi Amarista singled to center on a 94 mph 3-1 heater, but the opposing pitcher couldn't catch up with the full-count fastball Strasburg threw by him to end the Nats' starter's second scoreless after 18 pitches. 33 overall after two, 1-0 Nationals. Robbie Erlin retired the Nats' 6-7-and-8 hitters in order in a 12-pitch bottom of the second that had him at 35 total after two.
An 81 mph 2-2 curve to Everth Cabrera got the Padres' shortstop swinging for his second K in two at bats and Strasburg's 5th in 2.1 IP. Strasburg fell behind Will Venable, but worked the count full and got the outfielder looking with a 96 mph 3-2 fastball for out no.2 and K no.6. Carlos Quentin checked his swing on a 1-2 change low and away, then took a 2-2 change off the knee for the second HBP of the game by the Nats' right-handed starter. Chase Headley got hold of a first-pitch fastball in the at bat that followed and doubled off the GEICO wall in center field to score Quentin from first and tie things up at 1-1 in the nation's capital. Jesus Guzman's groundout to third ended a 21-pitch 3rd that had Strasburg at 54 after three.
Stephen Strasburg battled Robbie Erlin for nine pitches before walking to start the Nationals' third. Denard Span's attempt to bunt for a single ended up being a sacrifice that moved Strasburg into scoring position at second. Ian Desmond walked to put two on for Bryce Harper and Harper loaded the bases with one out when he hit a sharp grounder to the right side that Padres' first baseman Jesus Guzman could only knock down. Ryan Zimmerman got a first-pitch fastball from Erlin in the next at bat and sent it flying out to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for grand slam and a 5-1 lead over the Padres in the third. Jayson Werth lined an 0-2 curve to left for a one-out single after Zimmerman's blast, and Werth scored when Anthony Rendon put a 1-2 fastball from Erlin in the left field bullpen for his third home run of the year and a six-run Nats' lead. 7-1 Nationals.
• Zimmerman's Slam:
San Diego backtstop Nick Hundley walked with one down in the top of the fourth, and scored when Padres' second baseman Alexi Amarista hit a 1-0 fastball out to right and into the second deck above the Nats' bullpen for a two-run blast that made it a 7-3 game. Strasburg got the opposing pitcher swinging with a fastball up high for out no. 2 and K no. 7 and a groundout to short by Everth Cabrera ended a 19-pitch inning that had Strasburg up to 73 pitches overall. Robbie Erlin threw a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 second after his teammates cut into the Nationals' lead.
Will Venable grounded out to second on a 96 mph 1-2 fastball. Carlos Quentin couldn't catch up to Strasburg's 96 mph heat and he K'd swinging for out no. 2 of the Padres' fifth and K no. 8 in 4.2 IP by the Nats' right-hander. Chase Headley and Jesus Guzman hit back-to-back, two-out line drive singles to right and left, respectively, but an 0-2 yakker got oversized outfielder Kyle Blanks swinging for the final out of 16-pitch inning that had Strasburg at 89 total after five. Bryce Harper walked to start the Nats' fifth and stole second on Robbie Erlin and Padres' catcher Nick Hundley with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Harper took third on a ball in the dirt that was also ball four to Zimmerman and Erlin's last pitch of the day.
Tyson Ross took over on the mound. Zimmerman stole second with Jayson Werth up and a throwing error by Nick Hundley allowed Harper to score to make it 8-3 Nationals. Werth walked to put two on for Anthony Rendon, whose opposite field single made it a 9-3 game. The Nats loaded the bases again when Tyler Moore reached on an error by Everth Cabrera and their 10th run of the game scored when Wilson Ramos grounded into a bases-loaded DP. A two-out single by Strasburg brought Rendon in from third and it was 11-3 Nationals after five in D.C.
A one-out single by Alexi Amarista and the third hit-by-pitch of the game earned Stephen Strasburg a chat with pitching coach Steve McCatty. A walk to Everth Cabrera loaded the bases with one down, and pushed Strasburg up to 104 pitches. The Nats' right-hander was at 109 when a groundout to first by Will Venable drove in the Padres' fourth run, 11-4, and a line drive to Ian Desmond at short off of Carlos Quentin's bat ended a 22-pitch inning that had Strasburg at 111 overall after six.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 111 P, 68 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Bryce Harper was 3 for 3 with a walk after he singled to center to start the Nationals' sixth, but the Nats' 20-year-old slugger was forced out on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder to short and Tyson Ross got Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon to end a scoreless inning of work in relief with the score still 11-4 Nationals.
Chase Headley doubled off the wall in left center to start the seventh against Nats' right-hander Craig Stammen. A groundout by Jesus Guzman moved Headley to third and a Chris Denorfia grounder brought in the Padres' fifth run, 11-5. An error by Ian Desmond on the play put Denorfia on first and he scored when Nick Hundley singled over short in the next at bat, 11-6. Dale Thayer took over for San Diego in the bottom of the seventh. Wilson Ramos doubled for the fourth time this season with one down in the bottom of the inning and Denard Span and Ian Desmond took back-to-back, two-out walks in front of Bryce Harper, whose fly ball to center was cut off by Will Venable.
11-6 Nats after seven.
Everth Cabrera and Will Venable hit back-to-back infield singles to start the eighth and a weak pop to short left off Carlos Quentin's bat allowed Cabrera to score from second ahead of a throw in by Bryce Harper. Storen struck Chase Headley out with a 2-2 change for out no.1 and popped Jesus Guzman up to center for the second out of the eighth. Chris Denorfia battled for ten pitches with Storen before grounding out to short to end the eighth. Nick Vincent came on for San Diego in the bottom of the eighth and retired the Nationals in order.
Tyler Clippard came out for the top of the ninth and retired the Padres in order. Ballgame.
The Nats swept the three-game set with San Diego.
Nationals now 46-42