Nationals 8-4 over Phillies in D.C.: Stephen Strasburg Ks 11

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals improved to 36-4 in Stephen Strasburg's starts when they provide the 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick with 3+ runs or more of support. The 8-4 win gave the Nats two straight over the Philadelphia Phillies and a chance to sweep tomorrow.

Strasburg in D.C. Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: A.J. Burnett, Philadelphia's 37-year-old starter, gave up a leadoff double by Adam LaRoche and back-to-back one-out walks to Washington Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos and shortstop Ian Desmond to load the bases in front of Danny Espinosa, who was 0 for 1 tonight and 1 for 10 career vs the Phillies' starter when he stepped to the plate in the home-half of the fourth. Espinosa crushed a 1-2 sinker and sent an RBI double out to the out-of-town scoreboard in right field in Nationals Park to drive in two runs and make it 2-0 Nats. An RBI single by Stephen Strasburg followed and it was 3-0 in the nation's capital. Denard Span grounded into what looked like an inning-ending double play in the next at bat, but the throw back to first didn't arrive in time, so another run scored to make it 4-0 after four.

Domonic Brown singled to right to start the Phillies' fifth and took second on an error by Adam LaRoche, who failed to catch a throw over by Stephen Strasburg. Brown scored from there when Ryan Zimmerman failed to catch up to an opposite field fly to left off Reid Brignac's bat. Strasburg got two quick outs without Brignac coming in, but an error while covering first on a Jimmy Rollins grounder to LaRoche allowed the Phillies' second run to score. 4-2 after four and a half.

Make that 5-2! Nationals' third baseman Anthony Rendon started the home-half of the fifth with a solo home run to left that landed in the visitor's bullpen. HR no.8 of 2014 for Rendon made it 5-2 Nats.

Denard Span was 1 for 3 tonight when he stepped in with two on and one out in the sixth and took a 3-1 sinker for a ride to center. Marlon Byrd misread/misplayed it into a double and Danny Espinosa scored from second after singling with one down. 6-2 Nationals. A two-run single by Anthony Rendon drove in two more to make it 8-2.

John Mayberry, Jr.'s third pinch hit home run of the year was a two-run blast on a 96 mph 2-2 fastball from Strasburg that got the Phillies within four, at 8-4 after six and a half in D.C.

A 1:48 minute rain delay interrupted play in the seventh, but at 11:15 pm EDT, the teams retook the field and started back up. The score didn't change though. Nationals win, 8-4 final.

4. Strasburg vs the Phillies: In three starts against the Philadelphia Phillies last season, Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg was (2-0) with a 0.39 ERA, three walks (1.17 BB/9) and 29 Ks (11.35 K/9) in 23 IP against the Nationals' NL East rivals, over which he held Philly hitters to a .149/.192/.149 line.

In his first 2014 start against Philadelphia, Strasburg gave up three unearned runs in the first inning in Citizens Bank Park on a Marlon Byrd home run that followed an error in right field by Jayson Werth.

The 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick gave up three hits in the first that night, and three hits total over the next five innings of what ended up being a 5-3 comeback win in which he received no decision.

In six May starts, Strasburg was (2-2) with a 2.23 ERA, a 2.62 FIP, seven walks (1.56 BB/9) and 37 Ks (8.26 K/9) in 40 1/3 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .256/.303/.344 line.

At home in the nation's capital, the San Diego, California-born, San Diego State University-educated starter was (4-1) in seven starts in 2014 before tonight, with a 2.03 ERA, a 1.73 FIP, 11 walks (2.23 BB/9) and 57 Ks (11.57 K/9) in 44 1/3 over which the opposition put up a combined .243/.301/.308 line.

Last time out on the mound in D.C., Strasburg threw 88 pitches in six innings against the Texas Rangers, giving up six hits and two unearned runs in the Nationals' 9-2 win. The Nats scored six of their nine runs while Strasburg was on the mound, providing the right-hander with more than two runs of support for just the fourth time in his 12 starts this season. With the win, Washington improved to 35-4 over the course of his career when Strasburg receives 3+ runs of support.

Tonight in D.C., Strasburg started his outing with a swinging K of Jimmy Rollins...

1st: Jimmy Rollins went down swinging at a 2-2 change that he thought he fouled and he argued enough that home plate umpire Ed Hickox actually asked Strasburg for the ball so he could look for a mark. Chase Utley grounded out to first. Marlon Byrd sent a 96 mph 2-2 fastball out to short where Ian Desmond fielded the one-hopper and threw to first to end an 18-pitch inning.

2nd: Ryan Howard lined the first pitch he saw into the left-center gap for a leadoff single in the top of the second. Carlos Ruiz fell behind 0-2 quickly and went down swinging at a diving 87 mph change. Domonic Brown flew out to center on a 93 mph first-pitch fastball. Reid Brignac worked back from a 1-2 count and lined a 3-2 change to right for a two-out single that sent Howard around to third. Ben Revere stepped in with runners on the corners, and sent a grounder to short. Ian Desmond fielded it and stepped on second to end a 14-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 32 total after two. 0-0 in D.C.

3rd: A.J. Burnett went down swinging at a cruel 1-2 curve. Jimmy Rollins took a knee-high 95 mph 1-2 fastball for a called strike three and out no.2. Chase Utley got hold of a 1-0 fastball, but lined out to right to end a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd that left Strasburg at 42 pitches total after three.

4th: Marlon Byrd fell behind 0-2 and went down swinging at a 90 mph change. Ryan Howard K'd swinging over a full count change that kept falling away from the plate. K no.6. Carlos Ruiz lined a sharp grounder to third that Anthony Rendon dove for and came up with before firing wide of first where Adam LaRoche tagged the runner. 14-pitch inning, 56 overall after four scoreless.

5th: Domonic Brown singled to start the fifth and took second when a pick attempt got away from Adam LaRoche for an E:3. Reid Brignac hit an opposite field fly to left in the next at bat, and Ryan Zimmerman couldn't get to it. The ball bounced on the track, bringing Brown in from second to make it a 4-1 game. Ben Revere's groundout moved Brignac to third with one down. An 0-2 curve got A.J. Burnett swinging for out no.2. Adam LaRoche dove on a grounder to first by Jimmy Rollins, but Strasburg couldn't handle the throw to first base. 4-2 Nats when a run scored on the E:1. Chase Utley's line drive to second ended a 14-pitch frame. 70 pitches total after five.

6th: Marlon Byrd K'd swinging through a 95 mph 2-2 fastball. K no.7.  A 1-2 fastball got Ryan Howard for K no.8. Anthony Rendon tried to make a sliding backhand play on a Carlos Ruiz grounder, but came up empty on what was ruled a two-out single. Domonic Brown got an 0-2 change outside that got him swinging for out no.3 and K no.10. 16-pitch frame, 86 overall after six.

7th: Reid Brignac grounded out to second to start the seventh. Ben Revere hit a one-hopper through the right side for a one-out single. Pinch hitter John Mayberry, Jr. got hold of a 96 mph 2-2 fastball and hit a two-run blast into the Red Porch seats to get the Phillies within four, 8-4. Jimmy Rollins was K victim no.11 when he went down swinging at an 0-2 curve. Chase Utley's liner to short ended a 23-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 109 overall.

Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 79 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

3. Allan James Burnett: A.J. Burnett, 37, who signed a 2-year/$22.5M deal with Philadelphia this winter, held the Washington Nationals to one run on three hits in his first start against Philly's NL East rivals this season, with the only run he allowed on an Adam LaRoche home run that came when the Phillies were already comfortably ahead in what ended up a 7-2 win in Citizens Bank Park back on May 3rd.

That outing left the 16-year veteran right-hander (9-3) in 18 games and 17 starts against the Nationals/Expos franchises in his career, with a 3.00 ERA, 33 walks and 117 Ks in 120 IP in those outings, over which he's held Washington/Montreal hitters to a combined .235/.296/.339 line.

His second outing of the year against the Nationals this season, was just the second of his career in Nationals Park, where he gave up nine hits and four runs, one of them earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation last season. Two runners reached in the first inning tonight, but a backwards K on an 0-2 sinker to Ryan Zimmerman ended the bottom of the first after 18 pitches. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second left him at 29.

Denard Span doubled off Burnett with one down in the Nats' third, but he was stranded at third three outs later, and Burnett was through three scoreless on 39 pitches after a 10-pitch frame.

Adam LaRoche hit the second double of the game off Burnett to left field in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth. Ryan Zimmerman sent a chopper to second that moved LaRoche over. Wilson Ramos walked with one down, taking the second free pass of the night from Burnett to put runners on the corners with one down. Ian Desmond walked to load'em up for Danny Espinosa, who doubled off the out-of-town scoreboard in right to make it 2-0 Nationals in the fourth. Two more scored to make it 4-0 at the end of a 26-pitch frame by the Phillies' righty, who was up to 65 pitches after four.

After the Phillies scored two in the top of the fifth, Anthony Rendon took Burnett deep in the first at bat of the home-half of the frame, taking an 0-1 fastball to left and into visitor's bullpen to give the Nationals a three-run lead, 5-2. The 12-pitch frame left Burnett at 77 pitches overall.

The Nationals got to Burnett again in the sixth. A single by Danny Espinosa and a walk to Stephen Strasburg put two runners on for Denard Span, who doubled to center to drive Espinosa in and make it 6-2 Nats. A two-run single to center by Anthony Rendon drove Strasburg and Span in and make it 8-2 Nationals.

A.J. Burnett's Line: 6.0 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 63 S, 10/3 GO/FO.

2. #Spanning: After going 3 for 5 in last night's win, Nats' leadoff man Denard Span was 15 for 46 in his last 10 games (.326/.367/.391), with three doubles, three walks and no Ks over that stretch, which left him with a .281/.324/.386 line on the year. Span, 30, started the month with a .233/.295/.314 line, but his .296/.331/.417 month of May helped him turn things around at the plate.

Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked this afternoon what was different for the center fielder and top of the order bat? Was me more relaxed?

"Denard doesn't look any different to me," Williams said. "I know he's getting some hits that way [opposite field] which is good. He's hitting some breaking balls, which is good. So, relaxation? I can see that. I just think he's seeing the ball really well. He's letting it get a little bit deeper. Letting it travel a little bit more. Which, I mean the results kind of tell you that. So if he's able to stay on a breaking ball and hit it to right, that means he's on the ball. Or if he's able to take a fastball the other way he's letting it travel, get deeper and seeing it longer. I think that's, for me, that's what I see."

Span took a five-game hit streak into tonight's game.

His first at bat ended with a lineout to left.

The second time up, Span extended his hit streak to six games with an opposite field double on a 2-1 fastball outside, but he was stranded at third two outs later.

Span brought in a run with a groundout the third time up in the fourth, leaving him 1 for 3 with an RBI.

The fourth time up, there were two runners on and Span's fly to center field eluded Marlon Byrd and drove in run no.6 of the game for the Nats, who went up 8-2 when Span and Stephen Strasburg scored on an RBI single by Anthony Rendon.

1. The Wrap-Up: Rain, which was falling for several innings, picked up in intensity after six and half innings, forcing the game into a delay. The delay started at 9:27 pm EDT and... didn't end until 11:15 pm EDT when Phillies' reliever Justin De Fratus took the mound in Nationals Park for the start of the bottom of the seventh.

De Fratus gave up a single by Wilson Ramos, but nothing else in a scoreless frame. Aaron Barrett took over for the Nationals in the top of the eighth. Two runners reached, but Barrett struck Reid Brignac out to end a 14-pitch frame with the score still 8-4 Nationals.

Antonio Bastardo took over for the Phillies in the bottom of the inning and retired the side in order.

Nationals' lefty Jerry Blevins came out of the pen to try to end it. Ben Revere grounded weakly to second, forcing Danny Espinosa to make a glove-toss to first in time for the out. Pinch hitter Cesar Hernandez lined to center for a one-out single and took second on a passed ball with Jimmy Rollins at the plate. Rollins K'd swinging at a 3-2 change for out no.2. Chase Utley stepped up with a runner on second and two down and worked the count full before... fouling one off... and then... fouling off another... popping out to second to end it at 11:56 PM EDT.

Nationals now 29-28

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