Aug 31, 2014, 12:06 AM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: One night after the Nationals made Felix Hernandez look human, their own marquee starter lived up to the billing.
Stephen Strasburg had arguably his best road outing of 2014 with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball, the only score coming on his final pitch of the night. His final line included eight strikeouts, six hits and no walks.
Helping Strasburg out was an early lead in the top of the first inning on a home run by Jayson Werth. With how good Strasburg was, however, they wouldn’t need much. The final result was a 3-1 win that, combined with a loss for the Braves, leaves them with a seven-game lead in the NL East.
The Nats will now go for the three-game sweep on Sunday before heading to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. The Nationals now sit 77-57 overall on the year.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: After hitting six home runs on Friday night, the Nationals’ offense picked up right where they left off with a two-run shot by Werth in the top of the first.
The inning began with Denard Span reaching base on a fielding error by Austin Jackson in center field. Two batters later Werth crushed his 15th home run of the season to left field off Mariners starter Roenis Elias. It gave Werth his 74th and 75th RBIs on the season, the fourth time in his career he has reached No. 75. Two of those campaigns have come in Washington.
Jose Lobaton also had himself a night with three hits for the second straight game. He was brought home by Anthony Rendon for the Nats’ third run on a double in the top of the fifth inning.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: What stood out most about Strasburg on Saturday night was his efficiency. He needed just 85 pitches to get through the first seven innings before finally running into trouble in the eighth.
The only blemish on Strasburg’s night was a solo home run by Dustin Ackley with two outs in the eighth inning. Ackley just happens to have been the second overall pick in 2009, picked right after Strasburg.
Strasburg either matched or set a few career-highs on Saturday. For one, his 7 2/3 innings gave him 183 total on the year, tying his career-high from 2013. He also gave up his 22nd home run, extending a career-high. And with eight strikeouts, he set a new Nats record with 210 on the year. The franchise record is an amazing 305 set by Pedro Martinez in 1997. That year Pedro also held a 1.90 ERA.
Strasburg is now 11-10 with a 3.49 ERA this season.
KEY STAT: The Nationals are now 19-9 with one day remaining in August, clinching their best month since June of 2005 when they went 20-6.
UP NEXT: The Nats and Mariners close out their series with a 4:10 p.m. start on Sunday. Tanner Roark (12-8, 2.81) will go up against Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.83), who finished third in AL Cy Young voting last season.
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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