Stephen Strasburg left his last start before tonight's after 5 ⅓ innings with cramping in his right calf, but Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker didn't seem too concerned about it being a potential long-term issue.
"They were messaging it and they were trying to get the cramp out of there," Baker explained. "If anybody ever had a cramp, it's quite painful and it kind of leaves when it wants to leave.
"He'll be all right. He'll be fine. He said he's had it before. We've just got to keep him hydrated in his next start."
He showed no signs of any issue this time out.
Tonight in the nation's capital, in his first start of the year against the Nats' NL East rivals from Philadelphia, Strasburg took the mound with a (9-0) record on the year after 12 starts, in which Washington was 11-1, and threw a scoreless first before the Philllies scored two in each of the next two innings to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
Cody Asche and Tyler Goeddel (on a single/safety squeeze) drove in runs in the second and Tommy Joseph drove in two with a one-out home run to left-center in the third.
Strasburg's teammates picked him up, however, with Jayson Werth driving in two with a two-out double to left field in the home-half of the the third before Wilson Ramos and Stephen Drew went back-to-back with one-out home runs to center and right, respectively, off Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth to tie it up at 4-4.
Strasburg retired eight straight Phillies after the Joseph home run, and the Nationals went ahead when Daniel Murphy doubled to right on an 0-2 fastball to drive Ben Revere and Bryce Harper in, after a single and walk, respectively, by the Nationals' outfielders. 6-4 after five.
Danny Espinosa did it again in the sixth, hitting his 10th HR of the year and his seventh in the last 14 games on a 3-2 change from Hellickson to make it 7-4 Nationals.
After Strasburg retired the side in order in the seventh, he was up to 14-straight batters set down following the Joseph home run in the third.
Jeremy Hellickson's Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 94 P, 58 S, 10/2 GO/FO.
Daniel Murphy doubled for the second time tonight, driving Werth in with a one-out line drive to center after a leadoff walk in the seventh.
Murphy's second double of the game, 17th double of the year. 8-4 Nationals. Stephen Drew doubled to the base of the wall in right to bring Murphy in, 9-4.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 73 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
Felipe Rivero took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and gave up a two-out, two-run home run by Tommy Joseph, 9-6. Jonathan Papelbon handled the ninth, earning his 16th save in 18 opportunities. Ballgame. 9-6 final.
Nationals now 37-24
- Washington held a 5-4 lead over Philadelphia this season heading into this weekend's three-game set with the Phillies 3-0 in Nationals Park and 1-5 in Citizens Bank Park.
- The Phillies started the series with a five-game winning streak going in and wins in five of their last six games in the nation's capital.
- Philly swept the first three-game set in D.C. this season, if they did it again this weekend, it would be the first time they have done so since baseball returned to Washington in 2005.
- Washington won last season's series with their division rivals, 12-7, and, in today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, the Nats are 56-46 overall against Philadelphia... since 2011, after they went 39-71 against the Phillies between 2005-2010.
- Philly first baseman Tommy Joseph has hit safely in 13 of 15 games he's started this season, going 19 for 57 (.333 AVG) with a double and five home runs in those games. He hit two home runs tonight.
- The Nationals, as a team, started this weekend's series leading the National League in home runs with 82, and they also ranked sixth in the NL in walks (208). They added three home runs with Wilson Ramos, Stephen Drew and Danny Espinosa all going deep for 85 total on the year.
- Stephen Strasburg went (3-1) in five starts gainst the Phillies last season, with a 2.38 ERA against the Nationals' NL East rivals. He faced them for the first time this season tonight.
Nationals now 37-24