Justin Upton hit a two-run single in a four-run sixth inning Monday, helping the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 7-2.
Making his fourth spring training start, Strasburg had faced just one batter over the minimum entering the sixth. But after retiring Christian Bethancourt on a flyout, he allowed singles to Reed Johnson and Tylor Pastornicky, then a walk to Jordan Schafer that loaded the bases.
Justin Upton singled in the first two runs of the game, Zach Duke relieved and B.J. Upton hit a two-out RBI single. Ernesto Mejia followed with a two-run double and scored on Blake DeWitt’s double. DeWitt added a run-scoring single in the eighth off Fernando Abad.
“I guess I was dealing so much that I didn’t have much opportunity to really get my command down out of the stretch,” Strasburg said. He allowed four runs, four hits and two walks in 51/3 innings and struck out five.
Atlanta starter Paul Maholm allowed two hits in five scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
“He had the big breaking ball, and he also had the change-up going,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Plus, he commanded his fastball on both sides of the plate.”
Anthony Vavaro, a candidate for a spot in the Braves’ bullpen, pitched a scoreless sixth that included a called third strike on Bryce Harper, who is batting .438.
“He’s a guy that every time we run him out there, you know what you’re going to get,” Gonzalez said.