The Washington Nationals really needed Stephen Strasburg today. In the midst of a three game losing streak and having lost 4 of their last 5 games, they turned to their Ace to get the team back on track. What they didn't expect was Strasburg to lead with his bat.
Strasburg drilled his first major league home run in the bottom of the fourth, a back to back shot that followed C Jesus Flores' first home run of the season, to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish. More impressive Strasburg was 2 for 2 on the day at the plate, raising his season batting average to .375. Strasburg's blast lit a fuse in Nationals Park, that ended with a 12 hit, 9 run effort to snap the three game losing streak. Strasburg tossed 5 innings on the mound, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, while fanning 8 Oriole batters. Strasburg's 8 strikeout performance moved him ahead of fellow teammate Gio Gonzalez for the National League lead in strikeouts with 66. That puts Strasburg 2 strikeouts behind Justin Verlander for the major league lead. Overall, Strasburg improved to 4-1 on the season with a 2.21 ERA.
After falling behind to the Orioles with a 3-0 deficit early in the second inning, Bryce Harper drove in two runs in the third inning with his second triple of the season. Ian Desmond then grounded into a fielders choice, beating out the throw at first on what looked to be a double play, allowing Harper to score to tie it at 3-3. Flores and Strasburg then went deep back to back in the fourth inning to lift the Nats to a 5-3 lead. Desmond racked up his second RBI of the game one inning later, scoring Harper to give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.
The Nats weren't done. Danny Espinosa went deep in the 8th inning, a two run shot that scored pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi. Adam LaRoche knocked in the final run.
The Nationals got another impressive performance from their bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Clippard, and Ryan Mathieus combined for 4 shutout innings. Gorzelanny pitched 2 hitless and scoreless innings in the 6th and 7th innings.
Danny Espinosa went 2 for 5 with 2 runs, 2 RBI and a home run in the leadoff spot. Bryce Harper went 2 for 4 with 3 runs and 2 RBI and a triple. Harper raised his batting average to .244. Ryan Zimmerman remained on a wild tear, collecting 2 hits in 5 at bats. Zimmerman has been feasting on Baltimore pitching, going 7 for 15 in the three game series.