Strasburg strikes out season-high 11, Nats top Braves 3-2
ATLANTA (AP) — A strong start by Stephen Strasburg provided much-needed relief for Washington’s drained bullpen. Then Koda Glover made a convincing pitch to be the Nationals’ closer.
Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 and kept up his recent domination of the Atlanta Braves, leading Washington to a 3-2 win Sunday that stopped the Nationals’ four-game losing streak.
“I felt like whatever I called, it was going to be good,” catcher Jose Lobaton said.
Strasburg (5-1) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, his longest start of the season.
“We were hoping he’d go deep, deep, deep into the game, which he did,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Strasburg beat Atlanta for the second time this season and improved to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves. He is 10-8 overall against Atlanta.
Glover got four outs for his third save.
“Right now he’s the most durable,” Baker said of Glover’s status among closer candidates. “He wants it and we’re willing to give it to him if he keeps doing the job.”
Baker said another option, Shawn Kelley, was not available.
Strasburg reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time this season after fanning 10 Braves on April 20. Three of Strasburg’s strikeouts came against Matt Adams, who made his Atlanta debut.
Adams was 0 for 4 and hit into a ninth-inning double play, a day after he was acquired from St. Louis. Matt Kemp led off the ninth with a single, and Adams hit a line drive that was caught by Ryan Zimmerman , who stepped on first base.
“I don’t know if he missed a spot all day until the end,” Snitker said of Strasburg. “We could have had Hank (Aaron) and (Dale) Murphy in the lineup and it wouldn’t have mattered today. He was that good.”
Daniel Murphy hit a second-inning homer off Jaime Garcia (1-3) and the Nationals added two unearned runs in the third.
“They gave me some runs early and after that I was just trying to put together as many shut-down innings as I could,” Strasburg said.
Washington took a 3-0 lead in the third following fielding errors by Markakis in right and Garcia. Bryce Harper had a run-scoring single.
Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Wieters were given days off from the starting lineup. Rendon entered at third base in the eighth.
Braves: RHP Kris Medlen allowed one hits in six scoreless innings Saturday in his first start for Class A Florida. He missed most of 2016 with shoulder problems after his second Tommy John surgery. “That would be a real nice piece to have,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. Medlen pitched for Kansas City in 2015-16 and his last season with Atlanta was in 2013, when he was 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA.
STRONG START FOR GARCIA
Though overshadowed by Strasburg, Garcia also pitched well. He allowed three runs — one earned — and seven hits in eight innings with no walks.
“He was really, really good,” Snitker said. ”... That’s the way I envision him all the time.”
Swanson moved from No. 8 to No. 2 in the Braves’ lineup. Following a slow start to the season, the rookie hit .341 in his last 12 games. He had three strikeouts before his two-run double.
Baker was impressed. “He’s probably the toughest .201 hitter in the league,” he said.
Swanson actually finished the day at .207.
Nationals: Following an off day, RHP Jacob Turner (2-2) is expected to start when the Nationals will open a series against Seattle on Tuesday.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4) will take a 0-3 career record in three starts against Pittsburgh into Monday night’s series opener against the Pirates.
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