ATLANTA — Washington ace Stephen Strasburg had his good stuff on Sunday and that turned out to be too much for the Atlanta Braves.
Strasburg struck out a season-high 11 in Washington’s 3-2 win on Sunday at Sun Trust Park and continued his dominance of the Braves.
Strasburg (5-1) pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed two runs, both coming in the eighth inning. He allowed five hits and one walk on 118 pitches, one shy of his season high, with 86 being strikes. It was the first time since May 9 that Washington’s starting pitcher has gone at least seven innings.
“I don’t know if he missed a spot all day until the end,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We could have had Hank (Aaron) and Murph (Dale Murphy) in the lineup and it wouldn’t have mattered today. He was that good.”
Strasburg is 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 63 strikeouts in his last nine starts against Atlanta. The win allowed Washington to salvage one game in the three-game series.
“Sometimes I have a good game plan and it’s just all about making adjustments,” Strasburg said. “That’s baseball. You just go through stretches where you might have a hard time getting certain teams out. As long as you pitch to your strengths, the odds should be pretty good.”
It was the 31st time Strasburg has recorded double-digit strikeouts, the second this season — both against Atlanta.
Nationals rookie Koda Glover worked the final 1 1/3 innings without allowing a run and posted his third save.
Atlanta’s Jaime Garcia (1-3) pitched his best game of the year. He threw a season-long eight innings and allowed three runs (two unearned). He gave up seven hits, did not issue a walk and struck out a season-high eight batters.
“What he did to this lineup is pretty good,” Snitker said. “Throughout, this is a long lineup and look out there at the averages who he was facing. It was a pretty good job doing what he was doing today.”
Washington opened the scoring in the second inning when Daniel Murphy hit a long solo homer, his ninth home run of the season. It was Murphy’s second homer of the series and his third in the last four games.
The Nationals got two unearned runs in the third inning. Trea Turner reached on an error by right fielder Nick Markakis, who had the fly ball bounce off his glove, and took third when Garcia committed an error on Wilmer Difo’s grounder. Turner scored when Bryce Harper singled and Difo scored when Ryan Zimmerman bounced into a double play.
Atlanta finally scratched for two runs against Strasburg in the eighth inning. Rio Ruiz walked and took second on an opposite-field single from Ender Inciarte. They both scored on Dansby Swanson’s double to right field. Glover ended the threat by striking out Markakis.
Swanson had struck out his first three at-bats against Strasburg, but worked the count full and went the other way to produce Atlanta’s first runs.
“He struggled the whole game but he stayed confident, got to 3-2, got a pitch to hit and drove it the other way,” Atlanta right fielder Matt Kemp said. “He gave us a chance to win the game.”
With Washington’s bullpen at a high stress level, manager Dusty Baker opted to give Glover a chance to get a four-out save. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up a single to Kemp to open the ninth inning, but he was doubled-up when Matt Adams hit a screamer that was snagged by Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on the bag. Kurt Suzuki popped up to end the game.
“Right now (Glover) is the most durable,” Baker said. “He throws strikes. (Shawn) Kelley wasn’t available today after going two innings. Everybody wanted him to be the closer, but a closer has to throw three or four days in a row. “It relies on Koda’s health. He wants it and we’re willing to give it to him if he keeps doing the job.”
NOTES: Atlanta’s newly acquired 1B Matt Adams reported to the team and batted fifth in the lineup. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The Braves optioned INF Johan Camargo to Triple-A Gwinnett and designed C Anthony Recker for assignment. Recker opened the season with Atlanta and was optioned to Gwinnett on April 26. … Washington rested 3B Anthony Rendon and C Matt Weiters, replacing them in the starting lineup with Wilmer Difo and Jose Lobaton. … Atlanta continues its homestand with a four-game set against Pittsburgh that begins Monday. Atlanta RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-4, 4.10 ERA) starts the opener against Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole (2-4, 2.84). The Nationals return home on Tuesday to begin a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. Washington will wait to announce a starter, which could be RHP Jacob Turner or RHP Joe Ross, which would require a roster move.