The Washington Nationals (29-28) won the fourth out of their last five games fueled by Stephen Strasburg’s gem of a start and another offensive outburst. The Nats beat up on the Philadelphia Phillies with an 8-4 victory, went above the .500 mark for the first time since May 22, and moved within 1.5 games of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East.
Strasburg had yet another excellent start in seven innings: seven hits, four runs, two of which were earned, and 11 strikeouts. The outing increased his strikeout rate to an incredible 11.18 K/9, which is by far the best rate in baseball.
AJ Burnett pitched well through the first three innings, but in the fourth, the Nats bats woke up, and it was all down hill from there for the Phillies starter. Adam LaRoche led off the inning with a double down the left field line.
Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond then walked before Danny Espinosa hit a double off the right field wall about three feet shy of a grand slam, scoring two. Strasburg singled to score another, and then Espinosa scored as Denard Span beat out a double play. The big inning made it a 4-0 game.
Ryan Zimmerman got his first real defensive chance in left field in the fifth when Reid Brignac hit one toward the warning track. To be blunt, the former third baseman looked pretty lost on a ball that dropped in for a double. That’s going to be the major drawback there while Zimmerman learns a new position on the job.
The Nats defense threw a couple of actual errors into the mix in the fifth, too. LaRoche missed a pickoff throw by Strasburg, which advanced Domonic Brown to second, and then Strasburg missed a nice throw from LaRoche when covering on a Jimmy Rollins single. Ultimately, it cost him two unearned runs in the inning.
Anthony Rendon immediately got back one of those runs in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff home run into the vistor’s bullpen, his eighth on the season, making it 5-2.
The sixth inning saw some more offense from the home team. After an Espinosa single through the right side, Strasburg walked, and Span drove Espinosa home on a double that just barely stayed in the park. Rendon laced a single into left that scored both Strasburg and Span, he went to second on the throw, and just like that, it was 8-2.
Phillies pinch hitter John Mayberry, Jr. got in on the action in the seventh when he crushed a two-run home run off of Strasburg to make it an 8-4 game, but that was all the action we got in before the one hour, 48 minute rain delay began at 9:27 pm.
When play finally resumed at precisely 11:15 pm, we had just two and a half innings left to play, and the results didn’t change from before the delay after Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins cleaned things up in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
The Nats will go for the sweep on Wednesday afternoon at 4:05 pm.
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)