MIAMI (AP) — Stephen Strasburg gave the Washington Nationals just what they needed.
Strasburg matched his season-high with 11 strikeouts as the Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 4-2 Tuesday night.
“Strasburg, pitching through the sixth inning, that’s huge,’ Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We needed him to go out there and give us six innings. Our bullpen has been pitching a lot. He was fantastic.”
Strasburg (9-7) pitched six innings and allowed two runs and five hits with two walks. At one point, he struck out six consecutive batters.
“I thought he was good early,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Strasburg is 3-0 with a 3.63 ERA in six starts since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 22.
“I am working every day and try to find time things, working on the consistency that seemed to escape for a bit,” Strasburg said. “It’s always going to be a work in progress.”
Washington’s Bryce Harper tied a season high with five walks.
“If I would have swung the bat yesterday like today, I would have had nine walks in the series right now,” said Harper, who was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in Monday’s 8-5 loss. “You just have to wait for a pitch over the dish that I can drive. I wasn’t able to get that today and it led to getting on base five times.”
Anthony Rendon drove in two runs for the Nationals (77-75), who moved to within 6 ½ games of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, who lost 8-1 to St. Louis.
Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 26 opportunities.
Peter O’Brien hit his third home run of the season and J.T. Realmuto had two hits and knocked in a run for the Marlins.
Adam Eaton and Trea Turner had consecutive RBI singles in the second inning to give the Nationals an early lead.
O’Brien’s solo homer off Strasburg cut the Marlins’ deficit to 2-1.
“The plan tonight was just to get a pitch over the heart of the plate and get some barrel on it,” O’Brien said.
Rendon’s sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 3-1, but Realmuto pulled Miami within 3-2 with a base hit in the fifth.
“By the fourth you’re feeling like you’re just getting destroyed really because Strasburg is rolling, his pitch count is way down, and we’re throwing a ton of pitches, but we’re right in the game,” Mattingly said.
Rendon’s single in the sixth pushed Washington’s advantage to 4-2, scoring Harper, who reached on a walk by checking his swing.
“It’s 3-2 when they miss the call with Harper’s swing and then Rendon gets a hit,” Mattingly said. “If we strike him out there, it’s a 3-2 game. It’s a little different than if down two.”
Sandy Alcantara (2-1) pitched four innings for the Marlins and allowed six hits, six walks, and three runs.
TURNER HIT IN THE HEAD
Turner was hit in the back of the head by a pitch thrown by Tyler Kinley in the sixth inning.
“Guys are throwing so hard,” Turner said. “Luckily it was an off speed pitch. It is a battle hitters have in every at-bat and you don’t see much. You stay in there and not try to bail out too early and be able to hit 98 with all sorts of off speed.”
He stayed in the game and proceeded to steal his 40th bag of the season.
“I didn’t feel anything,” Turner said. “I was fine. I felt pretty good.”
His 40 steals leads the majors.
“I try to take pride in everything I do,” Turner said. “To be able to lead in any category whatever it might be–maybe not strikeouts–I think is an accomplishment.”
Harper, who leads the majors in walks this season with 123, was one walk shy of matching his career-high of six set May 6, 2016 against the Cubs.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (17-7, 2.53 ERA) will begin a four-game series against the New York Mets on Thursday.
Marlins: RHP Jeff Brigham (0-2, 7.36) will take the mound on Thursday when Miami begins the final home series of the season, a four-game set against Cincinnati.
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