Stephen Strasburg took the mound tonight in Washington, D.C. unbeaten in sixteen starts this season, over which he was (12-0), with the Nationals 15-1 in his outings.
His personal unbeaten streak, which was tied for the second-longest in D.C.-baseball history, stretched back over nineteen outings, to September 9, 2015.
Over that stretch, the Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander was (15-0), leaving him two wins shy of the all-time record unbeaten streak by a D.C.-based starter, set by Washington Senators' righty Firpo Marberry, who won 17 in a row back in 1930-31.
Strasburg made it (13-0) on the year and (16-0) in his last 20 with another win tonight in what ended up a 5-1 game in the Nationals' favor.
Pirates' shortstop Jordy Mercer started the scoring with a two-out RBI single to right in the fifth that followed two outs after Starling Marte singled to center to start the frame and break up Strasburg's nascent no-hit bid.
Marte stole second -- the first stolen base off the Nationals' starter this season -- took third on a groundout and scored on Mercer's hit -- a sliced liner that was just out of Clint Robinson's reach -- to make it 1-0 Pittsburgh after four and a half.
The Nationals came right back to tie it, however, with Wilson Ramos singling off Pirates' lefty Francisco Liriano with one down in the fifth and scoring from second on an RBI liner to center off Robinson's bat. 1-1 after five.
They were still tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa walked to start the frame and went first-to-third on Robinson's second hit of the night.
Liriano was lifted in favor of Pirates' right-hander Neftali Feliz at that point.
Strasburg bunted toward the right of the mound in the next at bat, and Espinosa broke for home when Feliz threw to first, scoring ahead of the throw back to the plate to make it 2-1 Nationals.
Robinson broke for third on a wild pitch by Feliz with Michael A. Taylor up one out later and scored on an errant throw by Pirates' catcher Eric Fryer, 3-1, and Taylor followed with a two-run blast to right that made it 5-1 Nationals.
Strasburg issued a two-out walk to Josh Bell in the eighth, on his 100th pitch of the night, but got Josh Harrison looking with a 2-2 bender on pitch No. 105 to end the top of the inning.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 105 P, 69 S, 7/6 GO/FO.
Shawn Kelley came on in the ninth to wrap things up and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless frame. Ballgame. 5-1 Nationals final.
Nationals now 55-36
- Pittsburgh arrived in D.C. with wins in 9 of their last 11 games and 12 of their last 16 overall, with a 46-43 record on the year.
- Washington started the series with Pittsburgh with a 54-36 record, good for the third-best record in the majors, behind only the Chicago Cubs (53-35) and San Francisco Giants (57-33).
- In the all-time series between the Nationals and Pirates (2005-present), the Nats held a 39-34 advantage heading into the three-game set, and they were 8-6 against the Pirates since 2014, with an 18-10 record against the Bucs in D.C.
- In today's PIttsburgh-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: The Pirates' 8-2 record so far in July is tied for the best in the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Bucs have scored an NL-leading 59 runs over that stretch, which ranks fourth overall in the majors over that stretch.
- Pirates' outfielder Andrew McCutchen started the three-game set in the nation's capital 53 for 152 (.349 AVG) with seven doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and a 1.114 OPS in 41 career games against the Nationals.
- McCutchen was one of five Pirates to hit at least 10 home runs before the All-Star Break, along with teammates Gregory Polanco, Jung Ho Kang, David Freese and Sean Rodriguez.
- Nationals' infielder Daniel Murphy started the night with the best average in the majors (.348) and the most doubles (25), home runs (17) and RBIs among NL second basemen.
- Pirates' outfielder Starling Marte starts the series with 30 stolen bases on the season, the second-most in the NL.
- Sean Rodriguez started the series in D.C. with a streak of three-straight games in which he's hit a home run. His 10 home runs on the year were just two shy of his career high of 14 set in 2014.
- Before tonight, each of the Pirates' last eight wins have been come-from-behind wins.
- Pirates' closer Mark Melancon started the three-game set in the nation's capital with a streak of 23-straight save opportunities converted and 27 of 28 opportunities converted on the year.
- Stephen Strasburg started the night (2-2) with a 2.83 ERA in five starts and 35 IP against the Pirates in his career.
- The Nationals started the night with a .272/.344/.491 line against left-handers this year, good for 3rd/5th/1st across the line in the National League.
Nationals now 55-36