WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg struck out 12 in 6 2-3 innings on a day Washington really needed to rest its relievers, and Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond homered, leading the Nationals past the Miami Marlins 7-1 Thursday for a three-game sweep.
Strasburg (1-1) got 14 consecutive outs in one stretch and allowed only three hits, including Marcell Ozuna’s homer in the seventh. The right-hander’s lone walk was to the last batter he faced.
Washington’s starter Wednesday, Jordan Zimmermann, left after a career-low 1 2-3 innings, leaving the bullpen “taxed,” as manager Matt Williams put it. The Nationals won that game 10-7 on Werth’s go-ahead grand slam in the eighth, and this time he connected in the third — a two-run shot off Tom Koehler (1-1) that put Washington ahead 2-0.
Werth hit a 3-0 pitch just to the left of straightaway center. After driving in a total of one run over the season’s first seven games, Werth has seven RBIs in the past two.
Washington tacked on five runs in the eighth off reliever Arquimedes Caminero, capped by Desmond’s second career slam and third homer of 2014.
Strasburg lasted 4 1-3 innings in his previous start, a 6-2 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, and he entered Thursday 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA. But with the temperature 67 degrees at the unusual 4:05 p.m. start, and shadows creeping across the diamond, he was much better against Miami, mixing a 95-96 mph fastball with a seemingly unhittable changeup.
The outset was inauspicious. Miami’s Christian Yelich led off the game with a single up the middle, stole second and took third on an error. But he got caught in a rundown when he tried to head home on Derek Dietrich’s comebacker.
There wasn’t another baserunner for Miami until shortstop Desmond booted Adeiny Hechavarria’s grounder for an error in the fifth. But Strasburg struck out Jeff Mathis looking at a 95 mph fastball to end the inning, then hopped off the mound.
Miami’s second hit, improbably, came off the bat of Koehler, who beat out an infield single to the hole at short in the sixth. After striking out Yelich, Strasburg hit Dietrich with a pitch, bringing up the Marlins’ best hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, with two aboard and one out in a 2-0 game.
Strasburg struck out Stanton looking and got cleanup hitter Garrett Jones swinging at a high fastball for his 10th K — the 13th time the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft had at least that many in a game.
Stanton’s next at-bat came in the eighth against rookie Aaron Barrett, who struck him out with a slider.
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