Stephen Strasburg came into Thursday's matinee against the Los Angeles Dodgers looking for his 14th consecutive win to start the 2016 season. Things didn't go as planned, as the Washington Nationals' All-Star gave up six earned runs and the Dodgers took the getaway-day rubber match of the three-game series 6-3 at Nationals Park.
Strasburg (L, 13-1, 2.83) took care of the first two batters, but then got into some hot water. Struggling slugger Adrian Gonzalez laced an opposite-field double to left, then Justin Turner ripped a hanging slider into the stands in left for his 16th home run of the season.
The Nats (57-39) went to work in the bottom half. Trea Turner led off with a routine two-hop ground ball to short, but with his tremendous speed he beat the throw. Michael Taylor followed with a line-drive single over the shortstop's head, then -- after Daniel Murphy struck out -- the pair pulled off a double-steal. Bryce Harper's deep fly to left plated Turner easily to halve the deficit.
It got worse for Strasburg in the third. Chase Utley led off with a single to left and Howie Kendrick followed with another single. Gonzalez singled on a sharp ground ball through the right side, and Utley beat Harper's throw home. But that just brought Justin Turner back up, and he smacked a high, 3-0 fastball just over the wall in left for another homer, and Strasburg trailed 6-1 after nine outs.
The Nats loaded the bases in the fifth without a base hit, but Anthony Rendon's hanging liner was hauled in by left fielder Howie Kendrick.
It stayed 6-1 through the sixth inning, with Strasburg retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. He struck out 10 in total, the eighth time this season -- and 29th in his career -- he's recorded double-digit strikeouts. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits and one walk with the two homers by Justin Turner the biggest blemished against his record.
After Strasburg exited in the sixth, the Nats bats woke up again. With one out, Chris Heisey singled to left and scored on a double by Danny Espinosa. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts then played matchup with his relievers, using lefty J.P. Howell to strike out pinch-hitter Ben Revere and Joe Blanton got Trea Turner to fly out to right to end the threat.
In the seventh, Michael Taylor walked to lead off the inning, stole second and scored on Daniel Murphy's single up the middle. With two outs, Wilson Ramos drew a walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Heisey flied out to end the inning.
The Nationals went quietly in the eighth and ninth innings.
WP: Liberatore (2-0) LP: Strasburg (13-1) SV: Jansen (28) HR: J. Turner 2 (17) E: None.
NEXT GAME: Friday night against the San Diego Padres at 7:05 p.m. Tanner Roark (9-5, 2.82) will host Luis Perdomo (3-4, 7.36).
- The Nationals rode four home runs, two doubles, a triple and a steal of home to an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night. The victory was Washington’s 30th home win of the 2016 season. The 2015 Nationals did not notch their 30th home win until Aug. 6, their 51st home game. Bryce Harper, Ben Revere, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon all went deep in the victory, the 10th straight game with a home run for the Nationals.
- Washington is an MLB-best 14-6 in its last 20 games, dating to June 26. In this stretch, the Nationals are outscoring opponents 107-59.
- The Nationals’ 57-38 (.600) record is tied with San Francisco for the second-best record in the Major Leagues, behind only the Chicago Cubs (57-37, .602).
- Revere and Werth hit their home runs in succession in the fifth inning on Wednesday night, the 12th set of back-to-back home runs the Nationals have hit this season. The 12 back-to-back home runs are already a franchise record (Nationals/Expos) for back-to-back jacks in a season (as well as a club record, 2005-pres.) On the season, the Nationals’ 12 back-to-back home runs lead the Major Leagues, two ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in second place with 10. The Nats leads the National League with 132 home runs overall this season.
- Werth’s home run in the fifth inning on Wednesday extended his current on-base streak to 24 games -- the longest active streak in the Major Leagues, and the fourth-longest of Werth’s career (29 games, Aug. 21-Sept. 20, 2015). During this stretch, Werth has collected 19 hits and 23 walks.
- Harper clubbed his 20th home run of the season on Wednesday night. The blast traveled 451 feet, according to StatCast, making it the longest he’s hit this season. The ball landed in Section 236, in the third deck in right field at Nationals Park. It was the third time Harper has hit a home run to the third deck in his home yard.
- Harper has now reached the 20-homer mark for the fourth time in his five Major League seasons. According to Baseball Reference, Harper is just the 12th player in Major League history to post four 20 (or more) home run seasons before his 24th birthday.
- With one out in the sixth inning on Wednesday night, Trea Turner and Danny Espinosa executed a double steal and Turner swiped home for the third successful steal of home in Nationals history.
- Turner’s steal of home puts him into the Nationals’ record books alongside former SS Ian Desmond, who executed the first in Nationals history on April 20, 2011 vs. STL (also part of a double steal), and RF Bryce Harper, who stole home outright on May 6, 2012 vs. PHI.
- Turner now has two triples in the past two games, reaching 22.4 and 22.7 mph max speed on his triples (per StatCast data), joining Revere (22.5 mph) as the fastest max speed on a triple in the Major Leagues this season.