For weeks, the impending shutdown of Strasburg has been the talk of baseball, and though the Nationals haven’t said exactly what their limit for the star right-hander is, it’s thought to be between 160 and 180 innings. After this start, his fourth win in a row, when he allowed four hits and walked one, he has thrown 1451/3 innings.
Talk of his innings limit overshadowed discussion of the NL East race. Washington’s win gave the Nationals a seven-game lead over second-place Atlanta, their largest of the season. The Braves have lost four in a row.
Strasburg weathered a 51-minute rain delay in the third inning. He struck out Michael Bourn to begin the game and struck out two in the second. After he struck out Atlanta starter Paul Maholm and Bourn flied to left, the rain came. When the game resumed, Strasburg (15-5) caught Prado looking to end the third inning.
Strasburg struck out two more in the fourth, and in the fifth, fanned Juan Francisco, Paul Janish and Maholm to give him 10.
It was the fifth time this season Strasburg had struck out 10 or more. His career high is 14, which came in his debut June 8, 2010.
In the sixth, Bourn grounded out. Prado doubled and Jason Heyward singled. Prado scored on Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly to center. After Heyward was tagged for the third out trying to advance when a pitch got away from Jesus Flores, manager Davey Johnson shook Strasburg’s hand at the dugout.
Drew Storen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard each threw a scoreless inning. Clippard pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 32 opportunities.
Ian Desmond hit a two-out homer in the second off Maholm (11-8). It was his 19th of the season. Flores hit a three-run home run in the fifth for a 4-0 lead. Maholm threw seven innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.