Stephen Strasburg retired the first eight batters he faced this afternoon before giving up a two-out double by the opposing pitcher, Jaime Garcia, struck out 11 total on the day, and held the Atlanta Braves to two runs on five hits over 7 2⁄3 innings pitched in what ended up a 3-2 win.
Strasburg gave the Nationals exactly what they needed in the finale of the three-game set in SunTrust Park, going deep into the outing and leading Washington to a sweep-avoiding win that ended a losing streak that had reached a season-high four straight.
Daniel Murphy got the scoring started early with a home run to right on a 2-0 fastball from Jaime Garcia in the second, and the Nationals took advantage of two errors by the Braves in the top of the third, with both runners who reached base on the misplays scoring for a 3-0 lead after three.
That’s all Strasburg needed as Nationals improved to 75-8 in his career when the right-hander receives three+ runs of offensive support while he’s on the mound.
Strasburg gave up two runs late on a two-run double by Dansby Swanson in the bottom of the eighth, but Koda Glover came on for the four-out save and got the job done.
Nationals now 26-17
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Wilmer Difo tripled on a first-pitch fastball from Braves’ starter Jaime Garcia in his one-out at bat in the first, but he was stranded two outs later as Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman failed to bring him in.
• Daniel Murphy got all of a 2-0 fastball from Garcia in the first at bat of the second, taking it for a ride to right for a solo shot that put the Nationals up 1-0 early. Home run No. 9 for Murphy this season.
Cock your hat - launch angles are attitudes. pic.twitter.com/h9rVJ77LwA— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 21, 2017
• Trea Turner and Wilmer Difo reached on back-to-back errors by Nick Markakis and Jaime Garcia, respectively, in the third, with Turner taking second on a fly to right that Markakis dropped and Garcia dropping the ball while rushing to try to get Difo at first on a roller toward third.
Bryce Harper stepped in with runners on the corners and no one out and lined a 1-2 slider to center for an RBI single, and Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play, but Difo scored to make it 3-0 after 2 1⁄2 in Atlanta.
• Stephen Strasburg retired the first eight batters he faced, and completed three scoreless on 44 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to an early lead. He kept the Braves off the board through five, retiring the side in order in a 10-pitch fifth and came back out with a 1-2-3 sixth, adding two Ks for eight total on 80 pitches.
• Nick Markakis doubled to right to start the Braves’ seventh, but he was stranded at second three outs later as Strasburg completed another scoreless frame.
Make that 7 scoreless innings for Stras. pic.twitter.com/yAREsra5y4— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 21, 2017
• Jaime Garcia’s Line: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 70 S, 12/1 GO/FO.
• Strasburg issued his first walk of the game in the eighth, and gave up a two-out single that brought the tying run to the plate. Dansby Swanson battled for eight pitches before doubling to right to drive in both runners, 3-2 Nationals.
• Koda Glover took over with the potential tying run at second base in the eighth and struck Nick Markakis out to end the frame, then came back out for the ninth inning, and worked around a leadoff single by Matt Kemp for the four-out save.
• Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 118 P, 86 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- In today’s “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Washington is 119-107 in the all-time series with Atlanta (2005-present) and the Nationals have gone 39-15 against the Braves... since June 21, 2014.
- After dropping the first two games of this weekend’s series, the Nationals have still won 18 of their last 24 with the Braves.
- Jayson Werth was moved down in the order this afternoon, but he took a 12-game on-base streak into the series finale, over which he’s gone 17 for 46 (.370 AVG) with two doubles, three homers, six RBIs, nine walks, and 10 runs scored over that stretch.
- Even after four straight losses, the Nationals still have the second-best record in the NL, behind only the Colorado Rockies (27-14).
- Washington’s offense started the day leading the majors in runs scored (243), AVG (.275), SLG (.473), RBIs (235) and extra base hits (159).
- In today’s Braves-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Braves’ outfielder Matt Kemp is hitting .458, going 11 for 24... in his last six games, with homers in each of the first two games of this series.
- Braves’ shortstop Dansby Swanson is catching fire, going 14 for 41 (.341 AVG) with a .440 OBP in his last 12 games before this afternoon’s series finale.
Nationals now 26-17